Mr. Speaker, I can only end by saying that Mrs. Johnson-Sirleaf's victory should also serve as a role model for African women throughout the continent. They must accept the fact that if you are a woman you can reach any height you want -- the sky is the limit -- but it would depend on your own approach to issues. If you are a woman, or a lady or a girl and you take your studies seriously and you control yourself as much as possible and you move as you ought to do, you can become a Mrs. Johnson-Sirleaf, as she has done in Liberia.
Mr. Speaker, with these few words, I want to associate myself with the Statement.
Mr. Haruna Iddrisu (NDC -- Tamale
South): Thank you, Mr. Speaker, for the opportunity to associate myself with the Statement but to have a departure from the praise -- singing of Johnson-Sirleaf and to draw attention to some core issues.
Mr. Speaker, as you maybe aware, Liberia has a population of about 3 million with about 16 indigenous ethnic groups. Liberia as a country thus provides Ghana an opportunity to learn some lessons. I have heard the hon. Member talk about the democratization process. Indeed, Mr. Speaker, if you would recall the civil war in Liberia can be traced back to 1989 and subsequently 1996, and further to 2003.
Undoubtedly, Mrs. Johnson-Sirleaf comes in with a remarkable background as an economist and somebody who had worked with the World Bank and the United Nations system. But Mr. Speaker, she faces enormous challenges, one of which is “the peace, security, and stability of the collapsed Liberian state.” I recall with some worry and concern the remarks of the then President of Liberia, President Charles Taylor when he was exiting. He
said that “God willing, I will be back.” I think that this is a very worrying statement for the woman President now of Liberia; and also there are challenges as to whether or not the former warlords should be subjected to trial for abuse of humanity and for committing crimes against humanity.
Mr. Speaker, as you may also be aware, indeed, when the Liberian team visited Ghana to learn from our parliamentary practice, some four important Members of Parliament were not included in the delegation because of some restrictions and bans at the level of the United Nations, which itself also poses threats to the peace and stability of Liberia.
Mr. Speaker, it is reported today that Liberia has the worst unemployment situation of about 85 per cent, with a collapsed economy. I can liken Liberia today to what was inherited in 1979 in Ghana when almost the GDP growth was negative and the unemployment rate was alarming and the challenge of the regime was to fix those things. But in doing so we must pay glowing tribute to the United Nations system, the African Union system and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) system; and in particular, as much as we appreciate the role of the current President, it is important that we do not lose the historical contributions of the previous National Democratic Congress (NDC) Government.
Indeed, Mr. Speaker, in 1989 and 1996, if you remember the genesis of the ECOMOG, that was the thinking and thoughts of African Leaders at the time and in praising we must praise all other persons, whether Presidents or individuals, who have played diverse roles in ensuring that Liberia reaches where it is today.
Now talking about a woman President
and its prospects for Ghanaians, I can see the excitement of our women parliamentarians and hope that they would gather the courage to move beyond that and serve notice that in future we equally can count on a Johnson-Sirleaf emanating from our country.
But at the same time, Mr. Speaker, one of the challenges again facing Mrs. Johnson-Sirleaf is how to establish an inclusive government, not inclusive as to call it a “nepotistic” regime, but all- inclusive in terms of the election outcome. If you would remember, Mr. Speaker, George Weah who contested the election was not too happy with the outcome of the elections. Indeed, he had proceeded to the Supreme Court but subsequently abandoned it. One of the challenges - and I have some assurance from some of the remarks that I have read from Mrs. Johnson-Sirleaf that indeed she means good when she talks about establishing an all-inclusive government.
11. 55 a.m.
I think that there is enormous interest in Liberia particularly from the United States of America, and rightly so because of the colonial relationship it has with the United States of America. It is interesting that even as Africans, the Liberians sometime ago preferred to refer to themselves as “Americans” and I do hope that the USA would be sincere in supporting the reconstruction efforts in Liberia.
With these I associate myself with the
Statement and commend the hon. Member who made the statement and hope that this would spur on not only Ghanaian women but women throughout the sub region to want to accept leadership positions. Indeed, there is empirical evidence that women have a high sense of integrity and honesty and that they can bring that to bear in future leadership.
Mr. Speaker, with these comments I associate myself with the Statement.
Deputy Minister for Women and Children's Affairs (Mr. J. B. Danquah Adu): Thank you, Mr. Speaker, for allowing me to lend my voice to this very important event that occurred in Liberia and also by doing so congratulate the people of Liberia, for selecting, for the first time, a woman President. As I make this statement our Ministry was over-joyed when we heard the news of a woman being elected as the first African Lady President.
But as do I so, Mr. Speaker, I think there are very fundamental lessons for everybody seated here to ponder over. I think one of the most important things is that as men here, as we talk, we should “walk the talk” by exhibiting in future, as we select our Speakers of the House - At least, of the three Speakers, that is the two Deputies and the Speaker, we should nominate and select one female, be it the Speaker or the Deputy Speaker. It is this challenge that I would want the House, as we support this Statement, to really show our dedication to this by exhibiting an our all-inclusive nature of selecting a woman Speaker or a woman Deputy Speaker.
Mr. Speaker, one of the challenges
that we face as a country is also women in politics and I think whether at the local level, assembly level or the parliamentary level, women face serious challenges. It may be resources, it may be being partisan, and I think I would encourage women in Ghana to become partisan and to become very resourceful and also vie for the most important seat in the country, the Presidency.
On this note I lend my support to the Statement.
Mr. Grace Coleman (NPP - Effiduase/
Asokore): Mr. Speaker, finally the veil is lifted. An African woman is a President and the whole world has taken note. It