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01.06.2007 General News

Law on property rights for spouses

By The Ghanaian Times

The Property Rights of Spouses Bill is to be enacted into law, the Minister of Women and Children's Affairs, Hajia Alima Mahama, has announced.

She said the Ministry and the Attorney General's Department are working "vigorously" towards the early enactment of the Bill.

This was contained in a speech read on her behalf at the launch in Accra on Thursday, May 31, 2007 of the Gender and Economic Growth Assessment (GGA) and the Voices of Women Entrepreneurs in Ghana Report.

Article 22 (2) of the Constitution provides for enactment of a legislation to regulate the property rights of spouses during and at the dissolution of marriage.

Hajia Mahama noted that women's property rights in and out of marriage were unclear and that had often resulted in restricting access to land as a result of the non-registration of their title.

"In addition, customary law is the basis for most land holding in the country and so land matters are inextricably linked to traditional and cultural norms that often tend to discriminate against women," she said.

The GGA, a collaboration between the International Finance Corporation (IFC) and the ministry, identifies key challenges and opportunities and suggests solutions to remove legislative and regulatory barriers to women entrepreneurship.

Voices of Women Entrepreneurs in Ghana, on the other hand, is an advocacy tool designed to complement the GGA by presenting the issues, concerns, as well as successes of women entrepreneurs in their own voices.

Hajia Mahama noted that the report includes a matrix of recommendations that summarises the policy reforms needed to improve the business environment for women in the country as well as to increase female participation in the development of the economy.

"The matrix also includes strategies, and recommended actions for policy reforms critical to the improvement of the business environment for women, and for increasing female participation in the country's economic development."

She said that the report has also brought to the fore, the need to critically examine assumptions underlining various economic models and to conduct gender analysis before adoption of such models.

Consequently, she said, the ministry would intensify its regional and national durbars with women's groups to assess impact of government policies on their socio-economic well-being.

On business registration procedures, the Minister observed that business registration processes were still cumbersome and needed to be streamlined, suggesting that, decentralisation of operations of the Registrar General's Department in all the districts would be of immense help to especially women entrepreneurs in rural areas.

Mary Agboli, Operations Officer of the IFC, said findings and recommendations were formulated by consulting broadly with a variety of stakeholders as well as surveying 450 women-owned businesses.

The results show that while the legal and institutional framework in the country do not overtly discriminate against women, there are nevertheless socio-cultural factors such as property ownership, land rights, land acquisition and inheritance rights that present obstacles to a woman's ability to take full advantage of the legal framework.

Ms. Agboli suggested among other things, the need to ascertain the extent of gender imbalances in the customary land sector under the Land Administration Project and the provision of services to facilitate understanding of the multiple legal issues- such as the basic legal steps in doing business.

Source: The Ghanaian Times

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