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The Struggle of Queenmothers (Queen Mothers) for Equality in Ghana

Posted: 17 Apr 2005  

Date Written: July 23, 2004


Currently, Queenmothers Queen Mothers (traditional women leaders) in Ghana do not participate in the local, regional, and national assemblies of traditional leaders, only male chiefs participate in these bodies. In addition to violating the Queenmothers' right to political participation, the exclusion of queenmothers has a detrimental effect on women's rights and health, generally, because these traditional institutions make important decisions regarding customary law and customary practices - many harmful to women, and influence civil and criminal law reform as well; civil laws in Ghana such as those permitting marital rape and dividing marital property inequitably upon divorce, are harmful to women. Ghanaian law grants traditional leaders (as opposed to the civil leaders) authority to codify customary laws, and thus also grants them the ability to codify or change laws which discriminate against women, e.g., the customary and traditional laws that deny widows the right to inherit when their husbands die, laws responsible for leaving countless women in extreme poverty. By denying queen mothers equality in governance and by excluding Queen mothers from traditional bodies, Ghanaian women's concerns and rights are not adequately advocated for, represented, nor protected.

Keywords: Equality, discrimination, gender, comparative law, anthopology, international law, AIDS, gender equality, public health, development, health and human rights, cultural practices, cultural relativism, traditional law, islam, law reform, Africa (Sub-Saharan), customary law, polygamy

JEL Classification: I18,130,J70,J71,J78,K33,K39,K49,N40,N47,Z00

Suggested Citation

von Struensee, Susan Vanessa M.G., The Struggle of Queenmothers (Queen Mothers) for Equality in Ghana (July 23, 2004). Available at SSRN: or

Susan Vanessa Von Struensee (Contact Author)

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