- Ghana can boast of several driven women whose hard work and resilience have seen them become first achievers in their various fields
- KNUST Medical School-trained doctor Penelope Adinku became Ghana's very first female Cardiothoracic surgeon after getting inspired by her elder sister, who is also a doctor
- Professor Florence Dolphyne was the first woman in Ghana to become a full professor while teaching at the University of Ghana
- Charlotte Osei made history in 2015 after she was appointed as the first female chairperson of Ghana's Electoral Commission
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Feats achieved by women are held in high esteem across the globe, and that is also true for Ghanaian societies. This is because, to a large extent, female trailblazers boost inspiration and affirm the belief that one can achieve it all, no matter the shortcomings, if one never gives up.
Ghana has been blessed with several women who have challenged the status quo, worked hard and seen themselves rise to greater heights. The journey of three of such audacious women have been shared below by YEN.com.gh;
1. Dr Penelope Adinku, the first female Cardiothoracic surgeon in Ghana
Brilliant and driven Ghanaian lady, Dr Penelope Baaba Tetteh Adinku, made history when she was announced as Ghana's very first woman to become a Cardiothoracic surgeon. Her first-ever open heart surgery, which gained national attention, was on a 6-year-old girl with poorly oxygenated blood circulating through her body. Dr Adinku revealed that the girl's condition got her easily tired and unable to keep up with her peers.
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The historic Ghanaian woman was inspired to venture into the field of science thanks to her father, a pharmacist, and her older sister, who is also a Medical Doctor. It was, therefore, no surprise when younger Penelope applied to study science at Wesley Girls' Senior High School and successfully got in. She completed secondary school in 2003 and moved on to Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology to pursue Medicine.
"I really enjoyed my time in school. I loved the program I was reading because I constantly invested in it, so it became much easier for me. I was also very lucky to have been in the same class with quite a number of my mates from Wesley Girls so it made things easier", she said.
From KNUST, Penelope proceeded to 37 Military Hospital for her housemanship and moved to the Greater Accra Regional Hospital after her first year of training. Finally, she became a Medical Officer at the Kole Bu Teaching Hospital, and after two years, she decided to become a surgeon, specifically, a Cardiothoracic surgeon. Dr Adinku explained why she chose that field in an interview;
"I found the heart very intriguing. When the heart stops, life is gone. I also saw the discipline as exciting, although indisputably daunting. I like challenges so I saw it as a challenge I could take up and I did", she said.
On her historic achievement as Ghana's first female Cardiothoracic surgeon, Dr Adinku revealed she knew that day would eventually come, but she did not foresee it coming this soon. She added that Ghanaians and her family have not ceased to celebrate and applaud her achievement since the news broke, and she is very appreciative of that.
2. Florence Dolphyne, Ghana's first-ever female Professor at the University of Ghana
Professor Florence Abena Dolphyne became Ghana's first female professor in 1997 after she was employed as a lecturer at the University of Ghana. She worked in the Linguistic Department for 36 years and rose through the ranks, including making history as the first female Pro-vice Chancellor at the university.
The brilliant Ghanaian woman started her secondary education at Wesley Girls Senior High School. She continued to Mfantsipim School, where she was among the few girls in the boys' school for her sixth-form education.
She then proceeded to the University of Ghana to acquire a degree in English and graduated in 1958. After school, she taught at La Bone Secondary School until she was awarded a scholarship to pursue her PhD in Phonetics and Linguistics from the School of Oriental and African Studies, the University of London, in 1965.
While teaching at the University of Ghana, she first became Head of the Department and rose to Dean of the Faculty of Arts. She was later promoted to Professor in Linguistics and finally became the first female Pro-Vice Chancellor.
In an interview, Professor Dolphyne encouraged students to always think about life beyond school and learn from people and experiences;
"You have so many years to live and so if you think that just going to school and finishing is all that you need, then you have a problem because there is so much that happens in life through everybody that if you don't learn from them, you have a serious problem. That is what molds your character, thinking process, relationship with people and so on", she said.
Professor Florence Abena Dolphyne is currently 84 years. For her 80th birthday, the University of Ghana, Legon, honoured her with an event celebrating her achievements. The theme was 'New Frontier in Language Studies in Ghana'.
3. Charlotte Osei, Ghana's first female Chairperson of the Electoral Commission
Charlotte Osei made history in 2015 when she became the first woman in Ghana to ever hold the position of Chairperson of the Electoral Commission. Before that, she worked as the National Commission for Civic Education (NCCE) Chairperson for four years and was the first woman to hold that position.
The history maker is an old student of Ghana National College and an alumnus of the University of Ghana, Legon, where she acquired her LLB. The brilliant Charlotte got called to the bar in 1994 and became a teaching assistant in the same year. Charlotte holds a master's degree in Business Leadership from the University of South Africa, Pretoria and a Master of Law from Queen's University, Canada.
Some of the earliest job roles she occupied after school were the lawyer for Laryea Company, Senior Legal Officer at the Ghana Commercial Bank and part-time lecturer in commercial law at the University of Ghana.
Speaking about her historic appointment at EC, Charlotte revealed that she made a promise to herself to ensure the position did not change her true character.
"I got in there young and I was determined and I really hoped that it would not change the essence of who I am. I knew I would not stay there into my old age but I wanted to make sure that whatever I needed to learn there I learnt and I achieved whatever I needed to achieve", she said.
After her time at the Electoral Commission, she worked with ECOWAS for the Nigeria election and right after that, she was sent to Afghanistan by the United Nations (UN). She is currently the director of the Electoral Institute for Sustainable Democracy in Africa (EISA), situated in the Johannesburg Area, South Africa.
Annie Ruth Jiagge: Meet The First Woman In Ghana and The Commonwealth Of Nations To Become A Judge
Still, on inspiring female trailblazers, YEN.com.gh earlier reported that Annie Ruth Jiagge became Ghana's first female Judge. This history only came to birth following a single good decision her parents made.
Annie was born in Lome, a town in the then French Togoland and could have spent the rest of her life there, but her parents knew how beneficial it would be for their daughter if she could speak and write good English; hence they made the decision to change her environment.
She was sent to live with her grandmother in Keta, then in British Togoland, and there, she gradually learnt the English Language. Annie Ruth Jiagge had her secondary school education at Achimota College.
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