Women around the world have remarkably achieved and showcased many outstanding results and the list of inspirational Ghanaian women whose actions have shaped society is quite extensive. Women whose actions and services have created an impact on Ghana’s society and helped shape it to what it is today.
Most influential Ghanaian women
Here is a list of 12 inspirational and influential Ghanaian women who have been and still are a source of inspiration to many women locally and internationally.
Nana Yaa Asantewaa was born in the 1840s in Besease, then the Ashanti Empire. She led a whole rebellion known as The War of the Golden Stool in 1900. She still remains an inspiration today for many women in Ghana and outside of Ghana, for her bravery and unshaken faith to defend her people in the face of adversity.
Before she led the rebellion, she famously stated these words: “Is it true that the bravery of Asante is no more? I cannot believe it. It cannot be! I must say this: if you, the men of Asante will not go forward, then we will. We, the women, will. I shall call upon my fellow women. We will fight! We will fight till the last of us falls in the battlefields.”
Ama Ata Aidoo
Ama Ata Aidoo, a champion for change, an author, Pan-Africa feminist, playwright and a respected Ghanaian personality.
Her fictional work deals with the tension between Western and African world views and many of the women at the forefront of her stories defied the stereotypical roles of women of their time.
In 2000 she founded the Mbaasem Foundation, a non-profit organization that supports and promotes women’s writing in Ghana and across Africa.
Have you ever wondered who designed the Ghanaian flag? Yes, it was a woman – Theodosia Okoh. Also known as “Dosia, Mama Maa” or simply “Maa,” she was a Ghanaian stateswoman, sportswoman, teacher and artist.
When on Ghana’s Independence from Britain the need for a new flag was advertised, she submitted her design, which was adopted as the Ghana National Flag by the country’s first president Kwame Nkrumah from 6 March 1957.
In justifying her design Theodosiah is quoted to have said “I decided on the three colors of red, gold and green because of the geography of Ghana. Ghana lies in the tropics and is blessed with rich vegetation.
The color Gold was influenced by the mineral rich nature of our lands and Red commemorates those who died or worked for the country’s independence. Then the five-pointed lone star which is the symbol of African emancipation and unity in the struggle against colonialism….”.
Not only did she design the Ghanaian flag, she was also the first female chairman of the Ghana Hockey Association and later President of the Ghana Hockey Federation for more than 20 years, and it was during her tenure that Ghana first qualified for both the Hockey World Cup and the Olympic Games.
She died on 19 April 2015 at the age of 92.
Rosemond Nkansah, the first Ghanaian woman to be enlisted into the Ghana Police Service, and later in the Gold Coast Police Force. This profession was a men only profession until Dr Kwame Nkrumah saw the need for the inclusion of women in the Police Force and gave his approval to the innovation of recruiting women into the force.
During 1952, Rosemond Nkansah, together with 11 other women, was enlisted into the Gold Coast Police Force at the age of 22.
As a woman working for the Ghana Police Service, you were forced to resign if you got married or pregnant. After serving for some years, she resigned because she wanted to get married.
However, before she resigned she petitioned for that clause to be removed as she felt that the clause unfairly treated women in comparison to their male counterparts who were allowed to marry and have families. Thanks to her petition, the clause was removed thus allowing women in the service to marry and bear children.
Hannah Kudjoe is one of the women who played a role during Ghana’s struggle for independence. Unfortunately, the story of Ghana’s independence is told without her name, despite her being a prominent activist during those times.
Hannah Kudjoe was undertaking fundraisers to support the independence fight and also partaking in political activities aimed at forcing the British crown to grant the country its independence.
It is said that when the Big Six were put behind bars, she led campaigns to raise money to free Kwame Nkrumah and his cohorts who were arrested during the 1948 riots. It is also said that she went to the extent of selling her personal possessions, so as to raise money to support the country.
She was also an active participant of the Positive Action, a series of political protests that eventually led to Nkrumah’s election and the formation of an independent nation.
Esther Afua Ocloo
Born in 1919, Esther Afua Ocloo, is one of Ghana’s great women entrepreneurs. Apart from starting her own business under her maiden name – Nkulenu Industries Ltd, a food processing company, she was the co-founder of Women’s World Banking from 1979 to 1985.
Her goal was to help women from an underprivileged background to be financially independent, the reason why she promoted the availability of credit to women with small loans to support their businesses.
One of Esther Afua’s famous quotes says: “Women must know that the strongest power in the world is economic power.”
Efua Sutherland, born in 1924, was a Ghanaian writer and activist who not only became one of Africa’s most prominent playwrights, but was also instrumental in developing the arts in Ghana after it gained independence.
She was the founder of the Ghana Drama Studio, the Ghana Society of Writers, and the Ghana Experimental Theatre.
Born in 1948, Alice Annum is a Ghanaian retired sprinter and the first woman to participate in Ghana’s Olympics. She achieved her best time at the Munich Olympic Games in 1972 (her best time in the 200 meters was 22.89 seconds).
She had to be part of this list because she is an inspiration to young women and girls in Ghana who compete in sports activities and made Ghana proud on the international sports stage.
Rebecca Naa Dedei Aryeetey
Referred to as Dedei Ashikishan, she owned a huge flour retail business in Accra hence that name – Dedei Ashikishan meaning Dedei flour. She was a business woman, a political activist, and a feminist. Also leader of the Market Mother Association.
She provided funds and campaigned for Dr Nkrumah (was said to be very close to him) to win the Accra-Central seat. An interesting fact, you will find her face on Ghana’s 50 pesewas coin.
Susanna Al-Hassan, Ghanaian author and politician, who in 1961 became Ghana’s first female to be appointed minister.
She was the first African woman to hold a cabinet portfolio and became the Member of Parliament for the then Northern Region parliamentary constituency between 1960 and 1966. Her fearless activism during the colonial era caused her to rise through the ranks in politics.
Gloria Amon Nikoi
Ghana’s first female minister of foreign affairs. She and her husband Mr Nikoi played a great role in the independence struggle. Her husband was made Ghana’s permanent representative to the United Nations in 1957.
Agnes Oforiwa Tagoe-Quarcoopome
Agnes was the market woman who supported Kwame Nkrumah and contributed to Ghana’s independence. By the 1940s, she became one of Ghana’s most important traders and market women who was greatly respected, owning shops in two of the country’s major trading centers located in Accra – Makola and Okaishie.
She was also the first woman to open a bank account with Standard Bank of West Africa (SBWA) which is now Standard Chartered Bank. Through her, the bank gained the trust of several other market women and businessmen who later opened accounts with the bank.
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