Candidate: Nana Konadu Agyeman Rawlings
Running Mate: Michael Sosu
Political Party: National Democratic Party
Profession: Philanthropist & Entrepreneur
Spouse: Flt Lt Jerry John Rawlings
Quote: “Once women are empowered the sky is the limit as far as development is concerned.”
With the hope of becoming Ghana’s first woman president, former First Lady Nana Konadu Agyeman Rawlings’ story has inspired young women in Ghana while drawing comparisons to the campaign of Hillary Rodham Clinton in the United States.
In 1992, when Bill Clinton was elected U.S. president, the Rawlings family had just helped bring democracy back to Ghana after 12 years of military rule. And when Mr. Clinton handed over power to George W. Bush, President John Rawlings did the same to John Kufour.
But 16 years later, both Mrs. Clinton and Mrs. Rawlings found themselves in presidential campaigns once again, running as presidential candidates rather than campaigning for their husbands this time around.
In 2012, Mrs. Rawlings, the longest serving first lady in Ghana, made her first trial to run in the presidential race but was unfortunately disqualified in the nomination process by the Electoral Commission.
She had left her husband’s political party, the National Democratic Congress (NDC), which they founded together, and was later elected First Vice-Chairperson in 2009 to become the flag-bearer of a new breakaway party, the National Democratic Party (NDP) after she lost a presidential primary by a landslide to former president John Evans Atta Mills.
Finally, in 2016, when the world is agog for female presidents, Nana Konadu finally got the nod to become Ghana’s first ever female presidential candidate on the ticket of the National Democratic Party after various legal tussles against the Electoral Commission, which had disqualified her previously with other 12 candidates due to anomalies discovered on their presidential nomination forms.
But back in the race with the second position slot on the ballot, Mrs. Rawlings has definitely come a long way, making a statement on why women need to take bolder decisions into leadership even if it has to affect the values they uphold and what they have worked for all their lives.
The 67-year-old candidate is a royal who was born into the Agyeman family from the Ashanti Region.
While in Achimota Senior High School, she met her future husband Jerry John Rawlings and later went to the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST), then known as the University of Science and Technology. A bachelor degree in Graphic Design, she specialized in textiles where she also played active roles in student leadership, which included being an executive in her hall of residence.
Pursuing more educational goals, Mrs. Rawlings earned various academic laurels from the London College of Arts, Ghana's Management Development and Productivity Institute, the Ghana Institute of Management and Public Administration, Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore and Lincoln University in Pennsylvania, making her one of the most educated presidential candidates in the 2016 race.
In 1982, she founded and has since led the 31st December Women's Movement, a women's empowerment organization with over 2 million members. It is described as a broad-based, development-oriented NGO that aspires to mobilize women in creating about 900 preschools across the country. Through the influence of her movement, Ghana was the first nation to approve the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.
In January 1977, President Jerry John Rawlings took Ms. Nana Konadu Agyeman to the altar at the Accra Ridge Church and after 2 years, she became the first lady after a successful coup led by her husband.
While being defined by some as “an expired commodity” and “moral and functional illiterate” in politics, Mrs Rawlings definitely has a point to prove on December 7 when Ghanaians get to decide if they are ready for a woman president.