Sunyani (B/A) Sept. 14, GNA - Mr. Joseph Boakye Danqwah Adu, Deputy Minister of Women and Children's Affairs said on Wednesday the Ministry has identified the endemic poverty among women as a major factor undermining their empowerment, growth and development. He said the Ministry, guided by its vision and mission had developed policies and programmes, including the establishment of Women's Development Fund, as a poverty reduction strategy to enhance their socio-economic status.
The Deputy Minister was speaking at the launching of the Brong Ahafo Regional branch of Ghana Association of Women Entrepreneurs (GAWE) and 2005 Women Entrepreneurs' Week in Sunyani. Mr. Adu said the Ministry had also developed and launched the National Gender and Children Policy framework to guide its activities, and had also developed a three-year strategic framework yet to be launched to guide the development of a sector-wide programme for Gender and Children.
"As part of the strategic objectives of the government's declaration of the "Golden Age of Business", the government is pursuing and facilitating women's equal access to resources, employment, markets and trade, alongside providing business services, training and access to markets, information and technology", he added. The Deputy Minister said his Ministry was prepared to collaborate with GAWE to promote and support its initiatives and expressed the hope that members of the Association would use this year's celebration to review their past activities, the gaps, challenges and gains to re-strategize the plans of the Association.
Mr. Adu also launched Women in Aquaculture programme, jointly championed by GAWE and the Ministry of Food Agriculture (Fisheries Division).
He stressed that there was no doubt that the President identified the development of the private sector as one of the critical areas of the government's focus for 2005, apart from Human Resource Development and Good Governance.
The Deputy Minister noted that the broader role played by GAWE sought to expose and enhance the capabilities of women in the Small and Medium Scale Enterprises (SMEs).
He, however, expressed surprise that despite the fact that women are noted to be the dominant gender in the SME sector, "there exist both local and external underplays that continue to limit their capabilities and hamper their abilities to fully participate in and contribute towards economic growth in the country."
"Despite women's predominance in all the informal sectors in the country, their entrepreneurship face numerous challenges, including issues of land acquisition and property ownership, capacity building or training and credit facilities," Mr. Adu noted.
Mr. Adu, however, expressed optimism that development of women-owned entrepreneurs, if properly executed, would go a long way to bail them out of the predicament.
"It is the mandate of the Ministry to empower women to meet the challenges of playing equal roles in the developmental tasks of the nation as partners of men", he said.
The Deputy Minister stressed that the creation of the Ministry of Women and Children's Affairs was a holistic national response to the many and varying challenges of empowering women and children, ensuring and protecting their rights, advocating for change in traditional and cultural practices and attitudes, which denied them equality and equity in accessing national opportunities to facilitate their developmental potential and aspirations".
Mrs. Lucia Quachey, Founder and National President of GAWE gave a brief history of the Association and said it was non-governmental and was formed in 1991 to champion the cause of women. She commended the 60-member Brong-Ahafo Branch for availing themselves to the formal launch of the Association, formed less than two months ago in Sunyani.
Mr. Ignatius Baffour Awuah, Brong-Ahafo Deputy Regional Minister urged women in the Region to join the Association. Dr. Kofi Abban of the Council for Scientific Industrial Research at Tafo in Eastern Region urged the Association to encourage their members to take to Aquaculture to boost their income generating activities.
Mrs. Evelyn Opare, Sunyani Municipal Director of Agriculture presided at the occasion. Sept. 14 05