The Akan queen mothers in Ghana and the implications of covert gynocracy
University of Wales
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Akan society in Ghana is a covert gynocracy. The Akan Queen Mothers assume a background position despite being co-political rulers of Akan traditional political chieftaincy institutions with sole authority and power for electing a man to be enstooled as king or chief. This background position results directly from traditional cultural and social norms - "cultural politics" - that have existed in Ghana from pre-colonial times to the modern-day and reflect how wider Ghanaian society perceives women. Festivals are extremely important in Ghana with women playing a central role in festival celebrations. One such festival of national and international importance is PANAFEST which celebrates the ideals of Pan-Africanism. PANAFEST is dominated by men with women, apart from the Queen Mothers, playing a secondary role in the celebrations, only one day focuses on women's activities. This study investigates the implications of covert gynocracy for women's empowerment in Ghana through a case study of women in tourism, particularly PANAFEST, and the role of the Akan Queen Mothers therein. Promoting social harmony rather than gender equality, this post-modern feminist study interprets rich qualitative data generated from unstructured interviews with better-educated individuals and focus group discussions with less well-educated individuals at three PANAFEST destinations. The thesis discusses the structures that underpin Akan society and the power and authority of the Akan Queen Mothers as decision-makers, particularly in respect of kingship. It exposes the contradiction of the Queen Mothers' power and authority with their background position as covert gynocracy and the implications of this for women's empowerment. The thesis presents the Theory of the Giant Leap to encapsulate the enormous challenges for women's empowerment in Ghana through addressing covert gynocracy and male hegemony. The thesis concludes that there is no short-term panacea and that issues can only be addressed in the long-term through education.
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