Women Leaders in Ghana
Development Chief Says Legal Rights Key to Empowering Women
July 14, 2010, Accra – Yesterday, on the first day of a three day trip to Ghana, UNDP chief Helen Clark met with women leaders to discuss their contribution to Ghana’s impressive progress towards women’s empowerment and gender equality – one of the eight Millennium Development Goals.
Helen Clark lauded the “tremendous amount of activity on the legal framework for women,” including the adoption of the Domestic Violence Legislation in 2007, a UNDP supported initiative, and the creation of a domestic violence victims support unit within local police departments. Clark added “the law can lead change, and examples abound in the world of legislation paving the way for profound social progress.”
Ghana has made staying in school a more attractive option for girls by constructing women’s dormitories in secondary schools, providing school supplies and uniforms to needy girls, sponsoring scholarships for girls, opening ‘gender-friendly’ toilets and offering meals, including rations that can be taken home.
The women leaders present at the meeting included the Minister for Trade and Industry, the Deputy Minister for Women and Children Affairs, the former Deputy Director-General of the International Labour Organization, the Acting Chief Director of the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning, and the Government Statistician.
The Minister for Trade and Industry, Hannah Tetteh, added that the ongoing constitutional review is “a once in a lifetime opportunity to address gender issues and women’s empowerment,” and she called on civil society organizations to propose sound amendments to that effect. Mrs. Tetteh also emphasized that a great number of small businesses are owned and operated by women, with a good track record in loan payments, but a low utilization of business development services and of skills-training programs.
Ghana, which has actively contributed to the Commission on the Status of Women and Beijing+15 processes, has also increased the participation of women in decision-making. Women occupy strategic positions in the government - including the Speaker of Parliament, Chief Justice, Attorney-General, Government Statistician, and multiple Cabinet positions. Furthermore, UNDP works with District Assemblies and the legislative caucuses supporting Ghana’s efforts to create training programmes and networking opportunities for women in local government.
Progress on the Millennium Development Goal to improve maternal mortality continues to lag in most countries in Africa, and is often the goal on which the least progress has been achieved. “We can no longer continue to witness the tragedy of 300 women dying in childbirth every month,” said Helen Clark.