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30.10.2003 General News

WDF disburses 36 billion cedis to women- Minister

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Accra, Oct. 30, GNA - The Women Development Fund (WDF) of the Ministry of Women and Children Affairs (MOWAC) has disbursed 36.2 billion cedis as macro credit to women for various income-generating projects.

Mrs. Gladys Asmah, Minister for Women and Children Affairs announced this in Parliament on Thursday, saying that 32,699,5000,000 cedis of the amount went to 63,100 women as macro credit and the remaining 3,466,362,5000 cedis was the cost of 200 gari processing machines, and 25 each of sheabutter and groundnut extracting machines.

She was answering questions by Mr. Kosi Kedem, MP for Hohoe South on behalf of Dr. Kwabena Adjei, MP for Biakoye. The question enjoined her to provide a detailed list of beneficiaries of the WDF between January 2001 and June 30, 2003.

In a dramatic move, the Minister presented a box of voluminous documents to the floor of the house, claiming they contained the detailed list the MP requested for, adding that she could not produce copies to members of the house due to their voluminous nature.

Mr. John Mahama, MP for Bole Bamboye intervened with a point of order saying, "in this age of information technology the Minister could have copies of the contents of the documents on diskets and Cds and provide copies to MPs.

Mrs. Asmah said the funds has provided 10,000 women with 200 gari processing machines and an additional working capital of five billion cedis to process gari, adding that most of the women are in the Upper East, Upper West and Northern regions.

She said some of the districts in these regions and other beneficiary regions have installed their machines and the district assemblies are helping the ministry to collate the list of women selected to participate in the processing of gari.

"Eight thousand, five hundred (8,500) fishmongers from all the fishing costal communities, including those of the lakes such as Atebubu, Afram Plains, Asougyaman and Bosumtwe Atwima Kwahoma districts have also been supported with a total credit of four billion 4.25 billion cedis," she said.

The Minister said 9,000 general and petty traders have also been supported with a total micro-credit of seven billion cedis adding that the Agricultural Development Bank (ADB) and the Rural Banks who are co-managers and disbursing agencies, provide the ministry with updates for disbursement and repayments.

"So far all the lists of beneficiaries, including those on the waiting list, those made to the districts and the disbursing banks, have been filed at the WDF Unit of the Ministry," she said.

Mr. Kedem again asked the Minister if she was aware that in some districts of the Volta Region the WDF is being distributed on party basis, Mrs. Asmah denied knowledge of that.

She said it was unfortunate that the WDF was being used for political purposes and she promised to investigate the matter and take the necessary action to stop it if found to be true.

In response to a question by Mr. Kwakye Addo, MP for Afram Plains on what the ministry was doing to ensure that women at the Gambaga Witch Camp, lived in dignity.

The Minister said: "my ministry does not believe in imposing solutions from without."

She explained that though outlawed is a human right violation, the witch camp practice has been a result of firmly rooted cultural belief of the people in that area since the 1900s, and it was only prudent to use sensitization and education rather than force.

Mrs. Asmah said the ministry in conjunction with some church based NGOs will from next year start an education and sensitization programme in the areas where the practice is prevalent, adding that there was the need for the Chiefs and district assemblies in those areas to inform the ministry on what should be done to resettle the women.

"It is my fervent hope and expectation that with time these women will be able to rejoin their families and communities free from threats of molestation and lynching," she said. 30 Oct 03

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