“Queen Mothers have come together and mobilised themselves to support the nation’s development. It is something that other nations of Africa can study. They have become a model association of women tradition leaders - a force for change, culturally, economically and politically,” says Professor George Hagan, former director of the Institute for Research, Advocacy and Training (INSRAT) in Accra, which trains Queen Mothers.
Two years ago, Ghanaian Queen Mothers have reached out to other African countries and formed a pan-African network of women traditional leaders, who can speak with one voice on continental-wide issues and have a real impact. The network now counts 20 countries and hopes to have all African countries on board soon. They are planning an international durbar next year on the theme of child protection and are working toward eliminating FGM within the next five years.
Yet for all their achievement, Queen Mothers are still fighting for full representation in the regional and national Houses of Chiefs, where all major decisions are taken. So far, women leaders can attend the Chiefs’ meetings, but don’t have yet the right to vote, even on decisions affecting women and girls.
Irene Odotei, INSRAT’s director says: “When Queen Mothers will be able to vote in the Houses of Chiefs on issues such as land ownership and women’s rights, they will be unstoppable. They will be formidable.”