Today In History: JANUARY 17, 1997 Ghana’s First Woman Minister, Mrs Susanna AL-Hassan Passes Away

Susan Alhassan, (nee Henkel, 27 November 1927 – 17 January 1997) was a Ghanaian author and politician, who in 1961 became Ghana’s first female to be appointed minister. She was the first African woman to hold a cabinet portfolio and became the Member of Parliament for the then Northern Region parliamentary constituency between 1960 and 1966. She also wrote several children’s books.

She was born in Tamale and educated at Achimota School. From 1955 to 1960 she was headmistress of Bolgatanga Girls’ Middle School. A beneficiary of the 1960 Representation of the People’s (Women Members) Bill, Al-Hassan returned unopposed as an MP representing the Northern Region in June 1960. She took on various ministerial positions, 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. In between that period in 1965, Nkrumah appointed her as Minister of Social Welfare and Community Development. Al-Hassan died on 17 January 1997. She has a daughter named Selma who was a newscaster in the 1980s. In 2007 she was commemorated on a 50th-anniversary stamp.

Her published works include the following:

1. Issa and Amina, 1963 ·

2. Asana and the magic calabash, Longman, 1963. Republished, 1998 ·

3. Two tales, 1966 ·

4. The river that became a lake: the building of the Volta Dam, 1979 ·

5. The river that became a lake: The story of the Volta river project, 1979[12] ·

6. Voices of wisdom, 1994 ·

7. The Role of Women in Politics in Ghana’, Feminist Perspectives, Ottawa: MATCH International Centre, 1994, 9-18.


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