By Linda Akrasi
After an hour’s chat with her at her airport-based office, I came to understand why she has been described with adjectives such as industrious and devoted Christian among others.
Most women, when asked who their role models are, usually mention her name, and that is Madam Joyce Rosalind Aryee for you. Currently the Chief Executive of the Ghana Chamber of Mines, Madam Aryee is also a public relations executive, a counselor, and an environmental consultant.
She strongly believes that women are as important as men, and must be given the fullest opportunity to be a part of the development process at all levels.
To her, women can exhibit certain strong leadership characteristics that are useful in our national democracy. “It is less likely for women to be corrupt and dip their fingers into the public purse. I am not saying it is impossible, but the emphasis is on less likely.”
Women, according to her, have a heart for the poor, “so if you are a developing country, and you want to pursue a pro-poor agenda, it is very useful to have women in some critical sectors of the economy. If by this, I am a feminist, fine, but I would not say get rid of all women and put men there.”
Aunty Joyce, as she is popularly referred to, also noted that the current government had not lived up to expectations, so far as the appointments of women into positions are concerned. “The statistics show that the President has not lived to his word, and has even, in some cases, dropped women and replaced them with men. I don’t know what the reasons are, but sometimes, you hear that they cannot find the women.”
She argued that the women can always be found, “but it is just that we seem to be practicing the winner takes all, so if there are women who don’t belong to the right side of government, then they won’t be considered.”
She is indeed looking for a time “where we would really have an all-inclusive government that naturally, would bring a lot of competent people on board. The political parties must also realise that it is not everyone who holds a party card, even though such people would be patriotic and very passionate about national development and be in a position to assist.”
“We need to get leaders to go beyond acrimony, because once you are elected president, it is not just for your party, but for the whole country.”
Whilst men even try to sometimes avoid challenges, Madam Aryee, a devout Christian, rather loves that, because it enables her to identify difficult situations and address them. Immediate results are also not a part of her, because she always shares ideas with others, since wisdom is not in only one person’s head.
Joyce is an orphan, as her father died when she was just seven years old, and her mum passed on some fifteen years ago. As a single parent, her mum had to go through hell in bringing she and her siblings up.
Her mum, as an educationist, wanted to bring all her children up through schooling, so she had to complement her salary with trading in baking, in order to make sure that her children went through school.
After going through difficulties to become what she is today, Joyce thinks she has to use her time appropriately. As a result, she has turned down proposals to serve some of the corporate boards in the country. “I pace my time out, because most boards meet quarterly, so I try and do my best.”
According to her, her first responsibility is to the Chamber of Mines, where she has been serving as Chief Executive for the past ten years. Although the chamber is a private sector mining industry association, they work more with the government, hence the perception that it is state-owned.
Touching on her personal life, Joyce Aryee said she has been married twice. Her first husband, with whom she has a 33 year old son, is a medical doctor called Dr. Mainoo, head of the popular Pro-Vita Hospital which has been saving motherless women with artificial insemination.
They lived together in Germany for many years, and relocated back to Ghana later. The breakdown of the marriage is attributed to the fact that they may not have known each other very well, because they met for a short time, and jumped into marriage.
Joyce Aryee says she married as a decision, because everyone was pressurising her that she was getting old and needed to marry. It was also based on a recommendation of a close friend’s mother, who happened to be Dr. Mainoo’s aunt.
“I suppose locating to a strange place with a different language made the pressures great, maybe it also contributed to that,” she hinted.
After some years, she met Dr. Charles Yves Wereko-Brobbey, who she had known since infancy, because their parents worked at the same place, and his senior sister happened to be her good friend.
They got married in 1996, but the marriage later broke down. Marrying again is however, not on her radar.
“When you’ve tried marriage twice and it has not worked, then you ask yourself if you have to try it again. Maybe my prince charming is still on his way. At age 65, I ask how much I can give to somebody.”
She admits that a lot of people look up to her as their role model through her motivational speeches and her ministry, but it does not mean that they should not get married and use her stance as an excuse.
If marriage were not good, God would not have created it. I have also been a single parent before, but I will not wish it on my worst enemy. Maybe, because I had only one child, managing was not all that difficult, but what about people who have more.”
She has, therefore, advised those who want to marry to learn to wait and get to know those they want to marry, because they are going to spend the rest of their lives together, so the issue about rushing into it is not good.
“I always tell people that when they sense in their heart and head that they are not ready, they should not allow anyone to pressurise them.
“I don’t discourage marriage, not at all. I maintain that we should instead be ready for it.”
Salt and Light is a ministry to her credit. It is one of encouragement and motivation, but not a church or a fellowship. She took the name from Mathew 5: 13- 16. “Salt, for me, stands for Christians, as well as light.”
Born to a Fante mother and a Ga father, Aunty Joyce hails from Anorhor in the Greater Accra Region. She has four siblings, two females and two males. She is the second of four children. Her mum hails from Elmina in the Central Region.
She admires her aunt, Mrs. Frances Ademola, and Dr. Leticia Obeng, who she says is extremely intelligent and very nationalistic. and that is where she learnt the wearing of traditional clothes.
Joyce Aryee is a professional with a versatile range of qualifications and a rich mix of personal skills. Her abilities are primarily in the fields of environmental management issues, communication, public relations, and the complete development of the human being
With over 40 years of public and private sector service, Joyce has acquired a wealth of experience, including editing and managing publications. She was the editor of an educational magazine, and a contributing editor of a leading Ghanaian business publication.
Dr. Aryee worked for the Environmental Protection Agency, but in 1983, while at the Ghana Standards Board, she was appointed Secretary of Information.
She was later appointed and made the Provisional National Defence Council (PNDC) Secretary for Education, and later as a non-Cabinet Minister to the National Commission for Democracy as Special Assistant to the Chairman.
Her service at the ministries and commission resulted in tremendous growth and stability in these sectors of the Ghanaian economy. Dr. Aryee played a very key role in the democratisation process while serving at the National Commission for Democracy.
As a Senior Mentor for the African Leadership Initiative, a leadership formation programmes, Dr. Aryee serves on Boards of Governors/Councils of several organisations such as the Private Enterprise Foundation, Ghana Eye Foundation, Energy Foundation, Central University College, Stanbic Bank, Finatrade Foundation, Glico General, Bible Society, the Roman Ridge School to mention a few.
She is also the Chairperson, United Nations Global Compact Local Network in Ghana, a Fellow of the Institute of Public Relations, Ghana, Fellow-Ghana Institute of Management, and an Honorary Fellow of the Ghana Institution of Engineers.
She has also participated in several mining conferences in South Africa and Canada, and as a Guest Speaker at the “Women in Mining Conference” in Australia.
She has travelled widely, often in her official capacity, to Europe, visiting countries like Germany, the United Kingdom (UK), France, Ireland, Switzerland, Hungary, Yugoslavia, Austria, Spain, Norway and Denmark.
She has also been to Asia (Singapore, South Korea, Hong Kong and India), the Americas (U.S.A. and Cuba), the Middle East (Israel and United Arab Emirates), and Africa (Tanzania, Gabon, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Libya, Liberia, Algeria, Mali, Nigeria and Kenya.)