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27.07.2005 General News

Women urged to take their place as devt partners

GNA

Accra, July 27, GNA - Hajia Alima Mahama, Minister of Women and Children's Affairs on Wednesday urged women to recognize their potentials as agents of change and take their places as partners in development.

"Women have to be aware and conscious of their rights and be able to assert them," she said.

These were contained in a speech Mr Kojo Amoakwa, Chief Director of the Ministry read on behalf of the Minister at the Third Annual National Young Women's Leadership Conference in Accra. Hajia Mahama said women must strategize as corporate entities to put their development agenda forward and to reject the notion that a woman's place was the kitchen and for procreation.

She noted that the right of women to enjoy decent standards of living and participate fully in national development was not an option but mandatory if the country was to see any meaningful development. It would be an uphill task but with determination they could succeed in bringing themselves up to stand side by side with their male counterparts.

Women over the centuries had played significant roles and contributed immensely in shaping and moving the nation forward but unfortunately they were marginalized and unable to realise their full potential due to poverty and dehumanising cultural practices. She said if women were given the same opportunities as men, they would be able to contribute meaningfully to national development. She expressed the hope that the Women's Development Fund which the Ministry had set up to provide credit to women in small-scale enterprises would grow and benefit many more women.

Mr Nana Siriboe, Acting Chief Director, Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning, said the Government through the Women and Children's Affairs Ministry had developed plans and programmes to ensure the realization of social and economic indicators that would impact positively on the survival, protection and the well-being of women and children.

He said in 2004, the Ministry recovered about 85 per cent of 82.8 billion cedis loan it gave to 159,549 women to go into food processing and other income-generating business throughout country. Mr Siriboe announced that this year the Government had targeted that about 300,000 women would benefit from the Fund and had also increased the amount to be disbursed from 500,000 cedis to between one million and two million cedis per an individual. He said the Ministry received 5.3 billion cedis from the Highly Indebted Poor Countries Fund, which enabled it to purchase and distribute 5,000 sewing machines and 300 gari-processing machines to women's groups.

Mr Siriboe said the Ministry had intensified its collaborative programmes with agencies in charge of education, health delivery, private sector development to ensure the promotion and implementation of women and children related programmes. 27 July 05

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