Mr Speaker, I must say that it is with a heavy heart that I pay tribute to the memory of the late Hon Mrs Gladys Asmah, former Member of Parliament for Takoradi, former Minister for Women and Children's Affairs, and former Minister for Fisheries.
Mrs Gladys Asmah was born in Cape Coast on the 16th October, 1939, and died in Accra, a couple of months ago, on June 24th 2014.
Mrs Gladys Asmah was an entrepreneur. During the early part of her life, she was in the United Kingdom. She specialised in dressmaking -- and even at that time, was selling petty coat, which she manufactured herself in Birmingham. On her return to Ghana, she set up a partnership, where she made clothing and sold them to department stores, particularly the then United Trading Company (UTC) and Kingsway.
Mr Speaker, Mrs Gladys Asmah was a very socially conscious woman, who even in those early days, was very much interested in the development of women.
She, on her own initiative, trained young women who had no entrepreneurial skills in dressmaking. For many years, she was the Board Chairman of the Takoradi Women's Institute, which was an institute, which trained women in various skills.
Mr Speaker, before she even entered political life, she had contributed a lot to her society. She was a member at one time of the Board of Fijai Secondary School, and together with her, we served on the Board of Ahantaman Rural Bank, which was one of the early rural banks in the Western Region.
In 1979, she was actively involved with Dr Bilson's Third Force. In 1992, together with my humbleself, were pioneers of the New Patriotic Party (NPP) in the Western Region. Also in 1992, we were both parliamentary candidates -- I, a candidate for Sekondi and Mrs Gladys Asmah, the candidate for the NPP in Takoradi. I dare say that, had the NPP not boycotted the parliamentary elections, we may have found ourselves in this House on the 7th of January, 1993.
Mr Speaker, in the religious sphere, she was an active member of the Anglican Church of Ghana, and at various times, served as a member of its Synod for the province of West Africa. She was one of the leading lights in the establishment of the Anglican Church at Takoradi Beach Road, and I believe that is where the funeral service would be held.
Mrs Gladys Asmah served as the first woman Deputy Minority Leader in the Parliament of the Fourth Republic, and she was very robust and aggressive in the articulation of her views. At one time, I described her as “a combative combatant” because, she made her views known rather
strongly. I recall that during one of those days, the former First Lady made some references to her, which aroused her irate, and made her respond in her characteristically forceful manner.
Being a woman very much interested in the development of women, it was no wonder that when President Kufuor assumed office as President, she was the first person to become the Minister for Women and Children's Affairs. A Ministry which she had to set up from scratch and now, it has become a very important Ministry in the governance of this country.
Mrs Asmah, at the time, after the 2008 elections, felt she had to give way and it was at a time when the applause was loudest. I believe many Members of Parliament will take a cue from her political life and step out when the applause is loudest.
Mr Speaker, of course, she was a royal. Her father was the Omanhene of the Asebu Traditional Area in the Abora-Asebu- Kwamankese Constituency of this country and she may be described as a matriarch in her family.
Even after she exited Parliament, she still played an active role in the politics of this country, particularly regarding that of the New Patriotic Party (NPP) of which she was a member of the Council of Leaders and gave counsel and advice where crises or problems were faced by the Party.
Of course, the foundation she laid as Member of Parliament for Takoradi, which is being built upon by the Hon Kwabena Okyere Darko-Mensah, who was mentored by her and also cut his political teeth at the Sekondi-Takoradi Metropolitan Assembly, where he became the head of the Finance Committee and from there,