Accra, Nov. 17, GNA - Beneficiaries of the Women's Development Fund (WDF) instituted by the Ministry of Women and Children's Affairs (MOWAC) three years ago, on Tuesday expressed their appreciation to President John Agyekum Kufuor for the improvement that the support had bought into their lives.
The Fund, which started with seed money of three million dollars, received an additional 21 billion cedis from the Government and a Japanese Grant of 26.5 million cedis to facilitate the expansion and development of women owned businesses.
Mrs Gladys Asmah, Minister of MOWAC, said the fund had supported about 200,000 women nation wide in areas of petty trading, fish mongering, dressmaking hairdressing, farming, batik and tie and dye making leading to 150 billion cedis market capitalisation.
"The growth shown in our coffers signify the fact that beneficiaries are able to repay their loans to enable others to benefit from the facility," she said.
Mrs Asmah said before the establishment of the Fund, a survey was conducted to ascertain the financial situation of women who were then relegated to the background though they were the backbone of the economy.
She said the current economic empowerment of women had given them much security, both at the society level and in their marriages. "Most women are now able to support their husbands at home and are also able to send their children to school with less financial stress," she said.
She urged the women to stay focused, dynamic, form stronger partnerships and groups to enable them to secure additional funding from financial institutions for the expansion of their businesses. Mrs Asmah said the programme of the fund would target 50 women from each district from next year, who would be supported to go into processing using raw materials available in their localities to create wealth.
The women, through their representatives from each of the 10 regions, expressed appreciation to President Kufuor and the Ministry for their immense contribution through the institution of the WDF to improve the living conditions of many women and children in the country. "Due to our efforts, we now have peace in our homes and in our marriages, because we are able to financially support our husbands in the payment of school fees as well as other bills," they said. The women stated that the banking system had enabled most of them to become major shareholders and the backbone of most rural banks in the country.
"We are very grateful to the President and the MOWAC for such a programme and we promise to work hard to ensure better lives for our families and the nation as a whole," they said.
The women, however, appealed to the Ministry to expedite action on applications to ensure that those who had not yet received their share did so, for maximum development.
Some disabled groups that had also benefited from the Fund appealed to the Government and the Ministry to further support them in the acquisition of machines, wheelchairs and vehicles to facilitate their movement and the distribution of their products.
In a speech read for President Kufuor by Dr Kofi Konadu Apraku, Minister of Regional Integration and NEPAD, he said the success of the WDF had vindicated his Government's for the establishment of the Ministry to ensure the welfare of women and children.
He commended the Minister, Mrs Asmah for her efforts to ensure women empowerment and secure better lives for children.
"I commend you for the "Operation Bring The Child Home", which yielded good results and helped in securing the liberation of hundreds of enslaved children and reunited them with their families," he said. The President said the New Patriotic Party Government believed in the empowerment of women, who were the backbone of the economy, and would do all it could to ensure their total liberation from poverty to wealth creation.
He pledged Government's commitment to pursue with renewed vigour, programmes and projects that would improve the living standards of women and children and also remove the drudgery associated with their daily chores, with the view of reducing poverty among women, especially those living in rural and deprived areas.
The women presented a carving and a citation showing their appreciation to President Kufuor. 17 Nov. 04