Considering the monumental responsibilities/tasks undertaken by the First and Second Ladies in support of the Government, clearly, it can be perfectly argued and established that, indeed, our First and Second Ladies deserve some form of benefits from the State.
We all appreciate the immense role of the 31st December Women’s Movement under the leadership of Nana Konadu Agyeman-Rawlings. Through that movement, Nana Konadu Agyeman-Rawlings was able to support her husband, former President Jerry John Rawlings’ regime in critical areas of the economy.
Through the 31st December Women’s Movement, hundreds of women were empowered economically and socially through acquiring skilful employment and entrepreneurship.
She established hundreds of pre-schools through which underprivileged women enrolled their wards.
Our current First Lady, Mrs. Rebecca Akufo-Addo has contributed extremely well, especially in the health sector through her foundation – Rebecca Foundation.
She did it for the Mother and Baby Unit of the Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital (KATH). She did it for the 41-bed Paediatric Intensive Care Unit at the Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital to provide quality and adequate health care to children.
Similar contributions had been made from others such as the Lordina Foundation, Samira Empowerment and Humanitarian Projects etc.
The individual First and Second Ladies over the years have significantly contributed to the governance and socio-economic development of Ghana without any official budgetary allocations from the Government.
Through their respective foundations, they rely on donations and sponsorship from the private sector, and sometimes international partners, to support the venerable in society.
The projects of First and Second Ladies normally become redundant after the exit of the governments of their respective husbands.
The intended benefits would help to support the First and Second Ladies to complete the projects they started while their husbands were in power.
Apart from initiating, funding and supporting developmental projects to complement government’s efforts, First and Second Ladies also represent the country at various local and international conferences/programmes.
However, the discussion around the subject of whether First and Second Ladies deserve salaries, is very healthy for our evolving multi-party democracy.
I think that the government should continue to encourage discussions on the payment of salaries for First and Second Ladies.
Government should further engage Ghanaians, political parties, CSOs and critical stakeholders on the way forward.
Government should also have to find out globally if that is the standard and best practices to pay salaries to First and Second Ladies.
In my candid opinion, First and Second Ladies deserve benefits, not necessarily terming it as salary.
If Ghanaians are not comfortable with the word “salary”, the government should amend it to a word acceptable to Ghanaians for national cohesion.
I think that the government should present an official Bill (1st & 2nd Ladies Salaries Bill) to Parliament for deliberations, consensus building and subsequent approval.
Through the Bill, we would be able to fine-tune the proposal and get the necessary backing from Ghanaians. We will be able to also outline in detail the job description, roles and responsibilities of First and Second Ladies under the 4th Republican Constitution.
Our First and Second Ladies seriously deserve to be taken care of by the State, especially the widows.
The author, Razak Kojo Opoku is the founder and President of the Concerned Voters Movement (CVM).