Chief of Staff, Akosua Frema Osei-Opare, returned to her onetime place of work yesterday and got honoured by the Excellent Leadership Group (ExLA) Group, for her contribution to women empowerment and other fields, describing her as a “modern woman leader who inspires change”.
ExLA, awarded the former Member of Parliament (MP) for the Ayawaso West Wuogon Constituency, at a well-organized event at the University of Ghana, Legon. Coincidentally, the university is located in the same Constituency she once represented.
She had, also taught nutrition in that same university and even headed the department for years.
Madam Osei-Opare, who is the first female Chief of Staff, in West Africa, was celebrated by young women, as well as women groups, including female Members of Parliament (MPs) for her enviable roles, spanning from legislature, executive, civil society, international field and others.
Present at the ceremony was the First Lady, Rebecca Akufo-Addo, a deputy Chief of Staff, Samuel Abu Jinapor, MP for Dome-Kwabenya, Sarah Adwoa Safo, Minister for Local Government and Rural Development Hajia Alima Mahama, former Interior Minister, Alhaji Malik Yakubu, lawyer and journalist, Gabby Asare Otchere-Darko, MP Ayawaso West Wuogon, Lydia Alhassan, and many others.
Former President Rawlings who was specially invited, but could not honour, presented a beautiful flowers to her.
Affectionately called Auntie Frema, the former lawmaker and Deputy Minister under former President Kufuor, was presented with a portrait picture of herself, a citation and other gifts.
In her speech, she thanked President Akufo-Addo for resisting the opposition and temptation, to follow the status quo by appointing her.
She was particularly grateful to the President and said that singular risk he took, was bold and supports greatly, the affirmative action movement.
She called on people in authority, to emulate the example of the President and give women the opportunity to serve at positions of trust.
“We are talking Affirmative Action all the time but it takes people to make things happen and standing here today, I am here because I am the first female Chief of Staff of Ghana, so help me thank His Excellency Nana Addo Dankwah Akufo-Addo, for the bold step of stepping into uncharted waters.
It hasn’t happened before, it’s a risk and yet, he said I will risk it. And I am urging more people in authority, to take the risk that His Excellency took with me and give women a chance in your various endevours.
Her late parents, especially her father, who believed in women empowerment and never gave up on her, were also not left out.
Again, she continued by thanking everyone who supported her throughout her journey and rendered her sincerest appreciation to the ExLA group, for choosing her for honour.
Board chairperson of ExLA, Prof. Akosua Adomako Ampofo, said the exploit of Madam Frema Osei-Opare, is one that should encourage young women in African, to come out of their shell and aspire to do more to help society develop.
She said, the continent needs more of the Chief of Staff, to affect society positively.
“I encourage all women here especially the delegates, to tap into the life and history of Hon .Akosua Frema Osei-Opare.
I change all women here; to dissect what it means to be self-aware the hard way, to go from wanting to be silent and invisible, to making an impact on society. We need more auntie Fremas”, she charged.
Prof. Adomako Ampofo who described Madam Osei-Opare as “A truly remarkable, accomplished woman and a mother said that, her life, is one that has impacted “Each one of us here”.
According to her, the former Chief ExecutiveOfficer (CEO) of ActionAid Ghana, has demonstrated through her work and family life that, when women rise to the occasion, they can make a significant difference which can’t be ignored.
“She is a woman who knows no barriers and sees no obstacle. Hers, is a story of triumph against all odds.
She is indeed, a role model to many young women in Ghana and in Africa today who have reservation about public office”, the University of Ghana lecturer noted.
In her view, women empowerment was not a fantasy, noting it is the narrative of strong women and resilience.
Executive Director of the Ark Foundation Ghana, Dr. Angela Dwamena-Aboagye, said Madam Osei-Opare, who has spent over 40 years working in many fields, is someone she has learned so much from and has come to love.
According to the outspoken lawyer, her first and many other encounters with the then as CEO of ActionAid, make her stand out as a woman whose “integrity is intact”.
She recalled how despite her closeness, the first female Chief of Staff, never compromised her position anytime her Foundation went to her organization for monetary support.
She said, Madam Osei-Opare’s life and works is something that must challenge everyone, because she was an “ordinary woman” who took very simple decisions and ensured she achieved whatever goal she sets out.
“Every time we took in a proposal, she will never cut any corner with us, we will go through the whole system, to make sure that we get our proposal. That is where I found out that her integrity is intact. She came to like me as a person, but she did not cut corners with me. We have to fulfill all righteousness”, she said amidst claim from the gathering.
She challenged young people to think of how they can assist others rather than themselves.
“Do not think of yourself too highly but think of how critical you are as a building block that God is using to touch other people’s life. It is not about how important you are to yourself it’s about how important you fit into that puzzle and how much difference you can make”, she said.
She also used the opportune time to call on Parliament to pass certain laws like the Affirmative Action Bill, Spousal Property Bill, Intestate Succession Amendment Bill, that seek to empower women that have remained in the august House for many years.
YAWC is opened to young women of Africa within the age of 18-45, who wish to be a part of the biggest platform for women empowerment in Africa.
The platform promotes knowledge sharing and intellectual discourse and most importantly, engender a strong sense of belonging which propels participants to become change makersintheir immediate environments.
It is endorsed by the UN Women through its West and Central Africa Regional Office (WCARO) and is duly represented by top officials every year during the congress.
With about 800 women from Ghana, Nigeria, South Sudan, Burkina Faso, the Gambia, Uganda, Benin, Cameroun, Ethiopia, Sierra Leone, and Rwanda, expected to participate in the 4th edition of the congress as well as wide continental and global media coverage, participate will have a broad platform for engagement of the business and social community across the world for growth and development.