Last Updated: Wednesday, 04 May 2016, 14:40 GMT

Ghana: Whether females can be appointed or ascend to the position of chief in the Asante (Asanti/Ashanti/Ashante) subgroup of the Akan, in particular the Aduana lineage; circumstances under which this could happen

Publisher Canada: Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada
Author Research Directorate, Immigration and Refugee Board, Canada
Publication Date 1 September 2000
Citation / Document Symbol GHA35158.E
Reference 2
Cite as Canada: Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada, Ghana: Whether females can be appointed or ascend to the position of chief in the Asante (Asanti/Ashanti/Ashante) subgroup of the Akan, in particular the Aduana lineage; circumstances under which this could happen, 1 September 2000, GHA35158.E, available at: [accessed 6 May 2016]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

In "Asante Queen Mothers: A Study in Female Authority," Beverly Stoeltje writes

The Asante Chieftancy system incorporates change in a wide variety of forms and exhibits a wide range of variation in the actual performance of authority. The office of queen mother reflects this flexibility in the wide variation in style we see from one queen mother to another Perhaps the widest variation possible takes place when a woman becomes chief. Although, not usual, such an instance is not uncommon and is not new. Most often a woman occupies a chief's stool until a specific individual male is prepared to assume it himself. He may be too young, or finishing a degree out of the country, or a number of other circumstances may prevent him from taking the stool. At such a point a royal female such as his mother or sister will occupy the stool, work closely with the elders and administer the affairs until such time as the selected male is prepared to take the stool himself. There are other circumstances, however, in which a woman becomes the chief, sometimes because there is no qualified male available or simply because she is more qualified and prepared to commit herself to the stool than any royal males. Most often a female chief was not a queen mother before becoming chief, but occasionally this is the case (1997, 60-1).

Stoeltje's work is based on a review of relevant literature and nine-months field work in the Ashanti region from 1989-1990.

Some of this information was corroborated in a 31 August 2000 telephone interview with an Associate Professor of Government at Clarke University who has worked on Ghana. This professor stated that "theoretically it is possible" for a female to be appointed to or ascend to the position of chief among the Asante, however she was unaware of any instances of female chieftancy in recent Ghanaian history. The professor stated that women who have achieved success in another area of their lives, including, for example, economic success, would be more likely to ascend to the position of chief.

The professor was not able to speak to the Aduana lineage of the Asante and information specific to chieftancy in the Aduana could not be found among the sources consulted by the Resource Directorate.

This Response was prepared after researching publicly accessible information currently available to the Research Directorate within time constraints. This Response is not, and does not purport to be, conclusive as to the merit of any particular claim to refugee status or asylum. Please see below the list of additional sources consulted in researching this Information Request.


Clarke University, Massachusetts. 31 August 2000. Telephone interview with Associate Professor of Government.

Stoeltje, Beverly J. 1997. "Asante Queen Mothers: A Study in Female Authority." Queens, Queen Mothers, Priestesses, and Power. Edited by Flora Edouwaye S. Kaplan. New York, NY: The New York Academy of Sciences.

Additional Sources Consulted

Christine Oppong and Katherine Abu. Seven Roles of Women: Impact of Education, Migration and Employment on Ghanaian Mother. 1987.

Ernest Obeng. Ancient Ashanti Chieftaincy. 1986.

George Ayittey. Indigenous African Institutions. 1991.

Ghana Country File, Resource Centre. February 1998 – August 2000.

IRB Databases

K. A. Busia. The Position of the Chief in the Modern Political System of Ashanti. 1968.


West Africa [London]. January 1998 – August 2000.

World News Connection

Internet Sites including:

Asante History, The Otumfuo Education Fund North America

African Proverbs Project

Anthropology Explorer

Art and Life in Africa Online: Akan Information, Asante Information

Ghana – A Country Study, AREA Handbook Series

United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights

Non-documentary sources:

Unsuccessful attempts to obtain information from two non-documentary sources.

Copyright notice: This document is published with the permission of the copyright holder and producer Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada (IRB). The original version of this document may be found on the offical website of the IRB at Documents earlier than 2003 may be found only on Refworld.

Search Refworld