Susanna Al-Hassan

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Susanna Al-Hassan
Member of the Ghana Parliament
for Northern Region
In office
Provisional National Defence Council Member
In office
President Jerry Rawlings
Minister of Social Affairs and Community Development
In office
President Kwame Nkrumah
Personal details
Born 20 November 1927
Died 1997
Nationality Ghanaian
Political party Convention People's Party
Alma mater Achimota School
Occupation Author
First female Minister of State in Ghana

Susanna Al-Hassan or Susan Alhassan (27 November 1927 – 17 January 1997) was a Ghanaian author and politician, who in 1961 became Ghana's first female to be appointed minister.[1] She was the first African woman to hold a cabinet portfolio[2] and became the member of parliament for the then Northern Region parliamentary constituency between 1960 and 1966. She also wrote several children's books.

Early life[edit]

Al-Hassan was born in Tamale and educated at Achimota School. From 1955 to 1960 she was headmistress of Bolgatanga Girls' Middle School.[3]


A beneficiary of the 1960 Representation of the People’s (Women Members) Bill, Al-Hassan was returned unopposed as an MP representing the Northern Region in June 1960.[4][5][6] She took on various ministerial position, some of which lasted for short periods whiles others were merged or expanded. From 1961 to 1963 she was Deputy Minister of Education in Nkrumah's republican government. From 1963 to 1966, and again in 1967, she was Minister of Social Affairs.[7] In between that period in 1965, Nkrumah appointed her as Minister of Social Welfare and Community Development.[8]

On the fight against prostitution in northern Ghana in the 1960s, the CPP government engaged in mass education campaigns that emphasized the association of prostitution with "social evil", "enemy" and "crusade", among the aged and illiterate population. Al-Hassan asserted that the problem rather lay with "the soaring rate of depravity and lewdness among our younger generation especially school girls and young working girls" who traveled to Tamale for work or school.[9]

Al-Hassan died on 17 January 1997.[10] She has a daughter named Selma who was a newscaster in the 1980s.[8] In 2007 she was commemorated on a 50th anniversary stamp.[11]


  • Issa and Amina, 1963
  • Asana and the magic calabash, Longman, 1963. Republished, 1998
  • Two tales, 1966
  • The river that became a lake : the building of the Volta Dam, 1979
  • The river that became a lake: The story of the Volta river project, 1979[12]
  • Voices of wisdom, 1994
  • 'The Role of Women in Politics in Ghana', Feminist Perspectives, Ottawa: MATCH International Centre, 1994, 9-18.


  1. ^ "Socio-cultural implications for women and leadership". Cultural News. National Commission on Culture. 2007-05-17. Retrieved 2010-06-05. 
  2. ^ Kwame, Stephen (2010). An African Living with Depression in America. iUniverse. p. 168. ISBN 1450220169. 
  3. ^ Raph Uwechue, ed. (1991). Africa Who's Who. Africa Journal Limited. p. 155. ISBN 978-0-903274-17-3. Retrieved 22 October 2012. 
  4. ^ Rebecca Quaicoe-Duho, Women have been versatile, Daily Graphic, 5 March 2009.
  5. ^ Elorm Ametepe (2010-02-24). "The Legislative and Constitutional Story of Ghana's First Legislative Assembly". Daily Graphic. Retrieved 2010-06-05. [dead link]
  6. ^ Salome Donkor (2009-09-28). "How Nkrumah empowered Ghanaian women". Salome Donkor. Retrieved 2010-06-05. 
  7. ^ Worldwide Guide to Women in Leadership: Ghana Ministers
  8. ^ a b Donkor, Salome (September 18, 2009). "How Nkrumah Empowered Ghanaian Women". Modernghana. Graphic Online. Retrieved November 1, 2016. 
  9. ^ Cammaert, Jessica (2016). Undesirable Practices: Women, Children, and the Politics of the Body in Northern Ghana, 1930–1972. U of Nebraska Press. p. 320. ISBN 0803286961. 
  10. ^ Kojo T. Vieta (1999). "Mrs. Susanna Al-Hassan (1927-1997): Ghana's First Minister of State". The Flagbearers of Ghana: Profiles of one hundred distinguished Ghanaians. Ena Publications. pp. 121–125. ISBN 978-9988-0-0138-4. Retrieved 22 October 2012. 
  11. ^ Ghana: Prominent Figures
  12. ^ "Books " "Susan Alhassan"". Retrieved 2010-12-01. 
Parliament of Ghana
Preceded by
Member of Parliament for Northern Region
1960 – 1966
Succeeded by
Political offices
Preceded by
Minister of Social Affairs and Community Development
1963 – 1966
Succeeded by
Preceded by
Minister of Social Affairs
Succeeded by