Nana Konadu Agyeman Rawlings

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Nana Konadu Agyeman Rawlings
Nana Konadu Agyeman Rawlings.png
Agyeman-Rawlings in 2016
First Lady of Ghana
In office
31 December 1981 – 7 January 2001
PresidentJerry Rawlings
Preceded byFulera Limann
Succeeded byTheresa Kufuor
In office
4 June 1979 – 24 September 1979
PresidentJerry Rawlings
Preceded byEmily Akuffo
Succeeded byFulera Limann
Personal details
Nana Konadu Agyeman

(1948-11-17) 17 November 1948 (age 74)
Cape Coast, Ghana
(m. 1977; died 2020)
ChildrenZanetor Agyeman-Rawlings
EducationKwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology
Known forFirst Lady, presidential candidate, and 31st December Women's Movement leader

Nana Konadu Agyeman-Rawlings (born 17 November 1948)[1][2] is a Ghanaian politician who was the First Lady of Ghana from 4 June 1979 to 24 September 1979 and from 31 December 1981 to 7 January 2001.[2][3] Both times under President Jerry John Rawlings. In 2016 she became the first woman to run for President of Ghana.

Early life and education[edit]

Nana Konadu Agyeman was born in Cape Coast, Central Region of Ghana, on 17 November 1948, to J. O. T. Agyeman and his wife.[1] She attended Ghana International School.[4] Later she moved to Achimota School, where she met Jerry John Rawlings. She went on to study Art and textiles at the University of Science and Technology. She was a student leader of her hall of residence, Africa Hall. In 1975 she earned an interior design diploma from the London College of Arts.[5]

She further pursued her education over the next couple of decades, acquiring a diploma in advanced personnel management from Ghana's Management Development and Productivity Institute in 1979 and a certificate in development from the Ghana Institute of Management and Public Administration in 1991.[5] She also took courses at Johns Hopkins University, the Institute for Policy Studies, Baltimore, MD, certificate for fellows program in philanthropy and non-profit organizations.[5][1]

Agyeman-Rawlings' first stint as first lady came after her husband served as military Head of State briefly in 1979. He returned to power in 1981, and, having been elected as civilian president in 1992, remained in power until 2001. She has been the president of the 31st December Women's Movement[6][7] in 1982. She was elected First Vice Chairperson of her party in 2009 during the second term of her National Democratic Congress (NDC) party's tenure in office under President John Atta Mills. She unsuccessfully challenged Atta Mills for the party's flagbearership position at the party's congress in 2011.[8]

Life's work[edit]

In a statement released by the Embassy of Ghana, former First Lady Nana Konadu Agyeman Rawlings stated: "My desire is to see the emancipation of women at every level of development to enable them to contribute and benefit from the socio-economic and political progress of the country.... Women's vital role of promoting peace in the family, the country and the world at large must be acknowledged. And to do this, they must be empowered politically to equip them adequately for the challenges of critically identifying and assessing solutions for the betterment of society."[7]

This was the goal of 31 December Women's Movement of which Nana Konadu Agyeman Rawlings was president. She described it as a "broad based development oriented Non-Governmental Organisation that aspires to achieve these objectives through the effective mobilisation of women." In addition, her movement—two million strong—has set up more than 870 pre-schools in Ghana and has worked actively to stir up interest for the accomplishment of child development and family planning.[7]

Ghana's former First Lady has said that she would continue to work in the women's movement even if her husband were no longer president. Her husband led a military coup that seized power in 1981,[9] although he was not established as head of state until the following year. The country successfully reverted to civilian rule in 1992 and held free elections. Calling the first lady "an instrumental part of the revolution in Ghana's economy," the Baltimore Afro-American reported that women were Ghana's largest labor force, and they wanted to be a central part of the country's redevelopment. "Before December 31, 1981, they had no power of influence in law or politics--even the laws that pertained to them." It was a grassroots movement, with women selling their land, clothes, and jewelry to get money.

Women's rights[edit]

In the early 1980s, a few women approached her wanting to form a women's organization but after a few meetings, little happened. She said that after asking the women what they wanted to do as an organization, "It was clear that we had to start with things that would earn money to develop their communities in the social sector. Most of the women wanted things like water."[10] The movement taught Ghanaian women how to generate income and save money for community projects. It encouraged them to become part of the decision-making process in their villages, and explained policies of health and education. It offered an adult literacy program to teach them to read and write—the majority of women could not do either. Too early marriages among female children were discouraged and programs were offered on nutrition and immunization. In 1991, through the efforts of Nana Konadu, Ghana was the first nation to approve the United Nations Convention on the Right of the Child.

Via the movement, Mrs. Rawlings also played a crucial role in the adoption of an "Intestate Succession Law," which is applicable to the survivors of anyone dying without a will. Traditionally, Ghanaian women had little or no rights of inheritance upon the death of their husbands. The new law provides a standard of inheritance.

Mrs. Rawlings movement has also taught village women to become involved in the electoral process. "We literally just pounded it into them until they realized, hey, we don't want any of these people who are living outside our areas to come and stand in our areas to be elected," she said in Africa Report. "A lot of women are now on committees in their villages and districts, some are chairing the committees.... I can only say we've made a lot of impact, and I can see from the self-esteem and near arrogance of the women, that now we've actually been able to break through this thick wall." In 1992, 19 women were elected in parliamentary elections.

Pointing to the area of finance as one of their problems, Mrs. Rawlings told Africa Report: "Most of the Western embassies said we were just a political group and they didn't take time to listen. It took a lot of time just getting people to understand.... The more women who enter politics, the better the world will be, because we don't think of wars and who is going to manufacture arms and who is going to kill the next person. We want to form linkages, network, and make the world a better place to live in."she is a very vibrant and charismatic woman.

1995 US tour[edit]

During 1995 Ghana's first lady traveled with her husband to cities, including New York, Chicago, Atlanta, Washington, D.C., Houston, Detroit, Lincoln, Pennsylvania, and Los Angeles, trying to encourage investment and trade with Ghana. Her husband was the first Ghanaian president to go on a nationwide tour in the United States.[5]

The first lady of Ghana was in the United States for five weeks taking part in a fellows program in philanthropy and non-profit organizations at the Institute for Policy Studies at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, where she received a certificate after finishing the course of study, which included fundraising techniques, tax policy, and a course on community organization. This was in 1994.[1] In 1995, both she and her husband received honorary doctorate degrees at Lincoln University in Lincoln, Pennsylvania.[11]

Presidential ambitions[edit]

In 2016 she became the first woman to run for President of Ghana. She was billed as "The Hillary Clinton" of Africa.[9] She would have become the first female president of Ghana if she had won with her newly formed party in 2016.[12] She won 0.16% of the votes cast. She submitted her nomination forms to lead her party, the National Democratic Party (NDP) in the 2020 general elections in October of the same year.[13]

Personal life[edit]

Nana Konadu married Rawlings in 1977. They had their first child, Zanetor, in 1978. Rawlings was at the time an Air Force officer. Two other daughters and a son followed: Yaa Asantewaa, Amina and Kimathi.[14] Her husband died in November 2020, when the election was less than a month away. She became less active in her campaign but did not withdraw her candidacy.[15]


  1. ^ a b c d "Nana Konadu Agyeman Rawlings, Mrs". Retrieved 13 April 2019.
  2. ^ a b "Photos: Meet Former First Lady Nana Konadu Agyeman Rawlings -". Retrieved 13 April 2019.
  3. ^ "Glitz top 100 inspirational women – Page 100". Glitz Africa Magazine. Retrieved 28 May 2022.
  4. ^ "My mother opposed my marriage to Rawlings – Nana Konadu reveals". Retrieved 23 March 2019.
  5. ^ a b c d Osman, Millard (29 September 2015). "Nana Konadu Agyeman Rawlings". Retrieved 5 May 2020.
  6. ^ Sangaparee, Clement (8 March 2010). "31st December Women's Movement Is Not A Political Wing Of". GhanaWeb. Retrieved 5 May 2020.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  7. ^ a b c Hardi, Ibrahim (27 December 2014). "Let's Use This Year 31st December Occasion To Invite Madam Konadu!". Modern Ghana. Retrieved 11 December 2017.
  8. ^ Online, Peace FM (22 February 2016). "Nana Konadu Opens Up". Retrieved 4 August 2019.
  9. ^ a b Freeman, Colin; France-Presse, Agence (7 December 2016). "'Ghana's Hillary Clinton': Nana Rawlings is first woman to run for president in West African country, as election gets under way". The Telegraph. ISSN 0307-1235. Retrieved 11 December 2017.
  10. ^ Africa Report in January and February 1995
  11. ^ "Agyeman-Rawlings, Nana Konadu 1948– |". Retrieved 25 January 2020.
  12. ^ Ofori, Isaac (16 February 2019). "Nana Konadu Agyemang Rawlings is the first female President of Ghana?". Retrieved 23 March 2019.
  13. ^ "Election 2020: Nana Konadu presents nomination forms". Citinewsroom - Comprehensive News in Ghana. 8 October 2020. Retrieved 2 November 2020.
  14. ^ Blankson, Jessey Kuntu (17 November 2017). "Nana Konadu Agyeman Rawlings Celebrates 69th Birthday". Modern Ghana. Retrieved 11 December 2017.
  15. ^ Frimpong, Enoch Darfah (23 November 2020). "NDP's Nana Konadu has not dropped from Dec 7 presidential race". Graphic Online. Retrieved 23 November 2020.

Further reading[edit]


  • Africa Report, January – February 1995, pp. 52–54.
  • Baltimore Afro-American, 29 October 1994, p. B1.
  • Defense & Foreign Affairs' Strategic Policy, July/August 1995, p. 24.
  • Jet, 12 December 1994, p. 26; 20 November 1995, p. 23; 11 December 1995, pp. 5–8, 10, 12, 14.
  • Los Angeles Sentinel, 26 October – 1 November 1995, p. A1; 9 November 1995, p. B3.
  • New York Amsterdam News, 3 December 1994, p. 2; 17 December 1994, p. 1.
Party political offices
New title National Democratic Party nominee for President of Ghana
2012, 2016, 2020
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