• Opinion

    Meet Susanna Al-Hassan, Africa’s first female cabinet minister

    As GhanaWeb prepares for the commemoration of International Women’s Day on March 8, we put our spotlight on Susanna Al-Hassan.

    Susanna was the first woman to become a minister (cabinet) in Ghana in 1961, under the presidency of Osagyefo Dr. Kwame Nkrumah.

    That feat also made her the first woman in Africa to attain such heights in politics.

    Here is all you need to know about her:

    Susanna Al-Hassan, born in Tamale in the Northern Region of modern-day Ghana on November 27, 1927, died on 17th January 1997.

    She was a product of Achimota School and was an author and politician.


    Susanna Al-Hassan kicked off her career as the headmistress of Bolgatanga Girls Middle School in the Northern Region from 1955 to 1960.

    Her leadership abilities saw her leave her role as headmistress to pursue politics, and she immediately became the Member of Parliament for the Northern Region in the same year, as a beneficiary of the 1960 Representation of the People’s (Women Members) Bill.

    After a year of excellent performance, the then president, Dr. Kwame Nkrumah, appointed her as the Deputy Minister of Education from 1961 to 1963, thereby making her the first female minister of Ghana, which also made her the first African woman to hold a cabinet portfolio.

    Susanna Al-Hassan was later appointed the Minister of Social Affairs from 1963 to 1966. She also served as Minister for Social Welfare and Community Development in 1965, when two ministries were merged by Nkrumah, and in 1967, she became the Minister for Social Affairs again when the merged ministry was decoupled.

    Social Responsibility

    Susanna Al-Hassan ‘s strong passion for the young girls saw her hit the road running with a campaign against prostitution, especially among young ladies, which had become rampant at the time in the north, with the assistance of her political party, the Convention People’s Party (CPP).

    She also wrote several children’s books.


    She is said to be the mother of former GTV news anchor, Selma Ramatu Alhassan, who later became Selma Valcourt.

    She was commemorated on a 50th-anniversary stamp in 2007 by the John Agyekum Kufuor-led administration, 10 years after her death.


    Some of her works are: Issa and Amina, 1963; Asana and the Magic calabash, Longman, 1963. Republished, 1966; Two tales, 1966; The river that became a lake: the building of the Volta Dam, 1979; The river that became a lake: the story of the Volta River Project, 1979; Voices of Wisdom, 1994; The role of women in politics in Ghana’, Feminist Perspective, Ottawa: MATCH International Centre, Susanna Al-Hassan 1994, 9-18.


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