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"My Vision Is to Empower Women": Church Leaders Hold Historic Meeting with First Lady of Ghana

The general presidents of the Relief Society and the Young Women organizations of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are in West Africa to meet with government leaders and Latter-day Saint missionaries and members. 

During the 11-day visit, Relief Society General President Sister Jean B. Bingham and her husband, Bruce, and Young Women General President Bonnie H. Cordon and her husband, Derek, are visiting Ghana, Nigeria, and Côte d’Ivoire or Ivory Coast, where the Church is flourishing.

The women auxiliary leaders began their journey in Accra with a historic meeting with Rebecca Naa Okaikor Akufo-Addo, the first lady of the Republic of Ghana, at North Ridge in Accra, Friday, March 1, 2019.

“I am so happy that you are here today,” said Akufo-Addo, wife of the president of Ghana, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo. “My main focus is for the women and children, especially for their health. … My vision is to empower women to take care of their families.”

“We have so many interests that are the same,” said Sister Bingham, leader of one of the oldest and largest women’s organizations in the world.

“We would love to be in communication with you,” she told the first lady. “There are many things we can do.”

Sister Bingham outlined many of the Church’s humanitarian programs, such as clean water, neonatal care, and immunizations. She also discussed the importance of strengthening families through education and literacy programs offered by the Church, such as BYU—Pathway Worldwide.

“We preach the gospel of Jesus Christ that improves their lives,” said Sister Cordon, who oversees the Church’s young women ages 12 through 17. “It gives them hope.”

The Latter-day Saint leaders presented Her Excellency with a card and gift to acknowledge her upcoming birthday on March 12. They also invited her to visit Salt Lake City during general conference in April or October.

“You could feel her genuine caring for the people,” Sister Bingham said after the meeting. “She has done so much to bless the women, the children, and I felt such an affinity with her. I felt like we were just grandmothers. I could sit down and talk about our children and grandchildren and about the challenges of the world.”

“There’s so much that we can help with and move forward her vision, and she’ll be able to help those sisters that are struggling,” added Sister Cordon.

Sister Bingham and Sister Cordon will visit Lagos, Nigeria, and Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire, before returning to Utah.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Africa

There are more than 16 million Latter-day Saints around the world, including 621,000 members in Africa. Missionaries are serving in more than 30 missions on the continent.

On Saturday, March 2, the leaders will participate in a devotional for the Ghana Accra West Mission.

Nearly 84,000 Latter-day Saints reside in Ghana. More than 177,000 Latter-day Saints in more than 600 congregations live in Nigeria. The Church has nearly 49,000 members in Cote d’Ivoire.

The Accra Ghana Temple is one of three operating temples in Africa. It was dedicated in January 2004. The other operating temples are in Aba, Nigeria and Johannesburg, South Africa.

The Kinshasa Democratic Republic of the Congo Temple will be dedicated April 14, 2019. The Durban South Africa Temple is under construction. Temples have also been announced in Harare, Zimbabwe; Nairobi, Kenya; Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire; and Lagos, Nigeria.

Lead image from Newsroom
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