Hajia Alima Mahama, Minister of Women and Children's Affairs has said Government has initiated some policy interventions to empower women and therefore called on women to take advantage of the policies to better their lots.
She said the New Patriotic Party (NPP) government's policy since coming into power in 2001 had been to promote and enhance socio-economic status and well being of women and children, who constituted about 75 per cent of the nation's population.
She said this at a day's seminar on government policies that affect women and children held at Tarkwa on Tuesday. The seminar, which was under the theme: "Government Policies for Women's Empowerment", was to offer the Minister an opportunity to meet and interact with women to know more about the challenges confronting them and their children.
Hajia Mahama said the mandate of the Ministry was to enhance the status of women in development through the promotion of gender equality and equity and the protection of their rights, as well as to enhance the participation of women and children in all spheres of development. In pursuit of this mandate, she said, the Ministry has been formulating policies to promote women and children's development, as well as influencing policy decisions and make policy interventions in favour of women and children.
For instance, MOWAC served on a number of policy-making bodies such as the National Population Educational Trust, the Steering Committee of the Social Investment Fund among others, adding, the Ministry spearheaded legal reforms on issues relating to women and children.
Hajia Mahama said economic hardship and poverty being experienced today were part of global phenomenon that was plaguing especially third world countries.
She said Government recognizing the dehumanising conditions of extreme poverty, was committed to fight them through various policy interventions.
The Minister said Ghana Poverty Reduction Strategy (GPRS), for example, aimed at reducing extreme poverty and hunger by half by 2015 in attainment of the Millennium Development Goals. To this end, she said the (GPRS) document had been made gender sensitive and the vulnerable and excluded people with disabilities and women and children have been specifically targeted for both direct and indirect interventions.
Hajia Mahama said the engendered GPRS also aimed at bridging the gender inequality gap in education, health, employment, and providing access to productive resources such as land, credit, information and technology.
She said The Ministry of Women and Children's Affairs formulated a gender and children policy to ensure that women and children were critical beneficiaries of development plans and programmes, to strengthen and to improve their situation.
"The overall goal of the policy is to mainstream gender concerns in the national development process in order to improve the social, legal, political, economic and cultural conditions of the people of Ghana particularly women and children". The Minister added.
Ms. Sophia Horner-Sam, Deputy Western Regional Minister said with all these favourable conditions created for women's participation, women have no excuse to sit on the fence.
She told the women to recognize that freedom was never offered to anyone on a silver platter and for anyone to experience true emancipation, one had to work for it.
She said with a lot of goodwill from government, women have to accept the challenge and strive to get into decision-making positions even in the face of stiff opposition.
Madam Horner-Sam said she was happy that another opportunity had been offered to women to be informed and encouraged about what was available for them and what they were capable of doing and urged all participants to be very attentive to the various speakers so that they could make the most of the programme.
She said "it is often said that women are their own enemies, though I do not subscribe to that theory, I wish to appeal to all present to do away with petty jealousies and squabbles among ourselves so as to direct our energies and efforts at more productive activities. Let us try to be each other's keeper because as you know, divided we fall, united we stand.
In an address read on her behalf, Ms Gifty Euginia Kusi, Member of Parliament for Tarkwa-Nsuaem Constituency said agriculture was the main occupation of women in the district, certain percentage were traders but they hardly get loans to help them cultivate larger farms or engage in their trading activities.
In the year 2001, a lot of women, about 20,000 in number, opened bank accounts at the rural bank to enable them access the loans given by MOWAC but only about 1000 women got the loans in the district and therefore appealed to the Minister to consider the women, in the district, in her Ministry's micro-credit programme.