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06.08.2004 General News

Let's commit more money to gender mainstreaming - Asmah

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Accra, Aug. 6, GNA - Mrs Gladys Asmah, Minister for Women and Children's Affairs, on Friday called on the governments in the West Africa Sub-Region to commit more resources to mainstreaming gender in order to empower the weak and vulnerable who happened to be women.

Speaking at the end of a three-day international workshop on: " Strategies for West Africa on Poverty Reduction, Gender and Enterprise Development", she said unless the African woman was empowered through policies, states would not be able to develop their human resource nor achieve the desired national development at a fast rate.

"The task of empowering women with the view to eventually mainstreaming gender in our political and socio-economic processes constitutes a major challenge to all of us, both as Government and as a people. It is a collective national responsibility which requires change in attitudes and perspectives," she said.

The about 70 delegates, who attended were from Ghana, Cameroon, Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria, Sierra Leone and The Gambia. The Commonwealth Secretariat, the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) and Economic Community of West Africa States (ECOWAS) Secretariat sponsored it.

Mrs Asmah said the situation of women in the countries of the Sub-Region had traditionally not been a proud one adding, "the disparity in gender relations and roles has worked to the disadvantage of women to the extent that traditionally women are considered to be inferior to men".

The fact that in most of the countries in the Sub-Rregion women constituted more than 50 per cent of the population meant that a major human resource was untapped and this was quite worrying, she said. Mrs Asmah said it was in this vein that governments have come to terms that if their countries were to develop, then the role of women in decision-making and industry and commerce could no longer be downplayed.

Mr Yaw Barimah, Minister of Manpower Development and Employment, who chaired the function, said for governments to stem conflicts in the Sub-Region, there was the need to tackle poverty first, which he described as pivotal in conflict situations.

He urged the participants to use their talents to unearth the potentials in their fellow women to develop the resources of the Sub-Region into wealth.

In their recommendation, the participants noted that poverty was not based on low or no income, but was linked to limited or unequal access to opportunities such as political, economic, social, legal and cultural resources.

They said evidence had shown that gender equality policies and investing in women brought in clear developmental dividends.

The delegates, therefore, agreed that there was the urgent need to develop modalities and innovative approaches for policy makers of organisations and institutions concerned with reducing poverty among poor women, especially in countries that were emerging from conflicts in the Sub-Region.

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