Africa should accommodate interventions that specifically target women's needs, concerns and perspectives in their quest to promote gender equality, Mrs Mary Chinery-Hesse, Chief Adviser to the President, said on Wednesday.
This, she said, could be achieved with high impact gender specific initiatives as a complement, with the ultimate objective of mainstreaming these activities at a later time.
Launching the European Commission/United Nations (EC/UN) project on Gender Equality for Development and Peace in Accra, Mrs Chinery-Hesse said: "In a way, we would eliminate the risk of women's needs being lost in the mainstream when conditions are not ripe for them to compete on the same footing as men."
The project, a mapping project, is to generate baseline information, establish the status quo and identify gaps which would facilitate the tracking of input of development partners into the development agenda of the country as it impacts on the mainstreaming and the promotion of gender equality.
Such mapping studies, she said, should take into account the paid and unpaid economic contribution of women such as household chores, rearing children and nursing the sick and elderly.
Such a comprehensive approach to data collection was crucial to sustainable and equitable economic growth and human development and the surest way to systematically obtain useful information for the formulation of people-centred, gender-sensitive public policy, Mrs Chinery-Hesse said.
She therefore charged the Ghana Statistical Service to improve the quality of statistical data, disaggregated by sex, to allow for a systematic study of gender differentials and gender issues.
Mrs Chinery-Hesse expressed the hope that the outcome of the project would provide policymakers with sufficient baseline information to enable them to institute appropriate changes to policies in order to address the special needs of children.
She also said it was gratifying to note that the study used the tenets of shared accountability now considered to be an essential fingerprint of good development assistance practice.
"We can say confidently that the principles of development effectiveness have informed the exercise in line with the commitment of the Paris Declaration on Aid Effectiveness."
In a speech read on his behalf, Deputy Minister of Finance and Economic Planning, Prof. George Gyan-Baffour said government was aware of the emerging paradigm, which saw aid effectiveness as development effectiveness with focus on gender parity.
He noted that women in this regard were being considered as critical agents of change because of their diverse role and a social background that presented one the greatest challenges to development.
Dr Gyan-Baffour expressed government's commitment towards addressing gender equality issues.
"The National Budget has a strong commitment towards addressing them by supporting the Ministry of women and Children Affairs (MOWAC) to implement and execute gender equality related activities," he said.
He added that Government's disbursement to MOWAC has steadily increased from 1,625,00 Ghana Cedis in 2005 to 2,406,841 in 2008, an indication of its commitment.
Mr Filiberto Ceriani Sebregondi, Head of European Commission (EC), said the project which cost 4.7 million Euros with EC's contribution of 2.5 million Euros was aimed at eliminating gender inequalities in developing countries.
Mr Kofi Agyeman Duah, Assistant Chief Statistician, admitted that data on gender
was scanty and said the service would work to make the country's statistics gender sensitive.
Mr. Dauoda Toure, UN Resident Coordinator, called for recognition of gender equality and said Ghana should address the issue of maternal mortality rate and poverty reduction.