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Oct 6, 2015

Ghana commits to enhance women’s access to economic opportunities

Ghana has made a commitment to enhance women’s access to economic opportunities and their active involvement in economic growth and development. Minister for Gender Children and Social Protection Hon Nana Oye Lithur made the commitment at a side event of the UN General Assembly meeting in New York.

The event, Transforming Economies: Empowering Women and Girls Special Event was hosted by the UK Secretary of State for International Development, Justine Greening and the Executive Director for UN Women, Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka.

According to Nana Oye Lithur, enhancing women’s access to economic opportunities and their active involvement in economic growth and development will be done by providing access to finance and ensuring gender equality in employment.

Nana Oye said she is also doing this “through strengthening the legal and policy framework to ensure gender empowerment and gender mainstreaming." The Gender, Children and Social Protection Minister said under her “tenure seven bills related to gender equality, and child rights are being considered, and two policies have been adopted on child rights and gender. The third on social protection is under consideration.” Some of the Bills introduced include the Affirmative Action Bill, Property Rights of Spouses Bill and Intestate Succession Bill.

Nana Oye Lithur expressed the Government’s commitment to empower women through social protection, especially female food crop growers who are the poorest of the poor. She also expressed her passion for young women’s empowerment, saying “what I am most passionate about is empowering young rural girls.”

She said she commits “to creating a safe learning environment for rural girls in school to enable them complete their education and start self-sustaining economic ventures.” Nana Oye said she would work “to protect rural girls from child marriages, abduction and child trafficking."

The UK Secretary of State for International Development, Justine Greening said she believes “that girls and women are one of the best and one smartest development investments” that can be made.

She said “when girls stay in school for just one extra year of primary school that can boost their eventual wages by 10 to 20 percent”, and when “women get extra earnings, they will then reinvest that back in their families and back in their communities”.

It is, therefore, a “double win for development”. Justine Greening referred to a World Bank research which shows that “half of women’s productive potential globally is completely underutilized”, and for men it was just a fifth.

She said there’s the urgent need to leverage more finances to invest on gender equality more broadly, not just in terms of international development investment, but financing from the private sector, from philanthropists and from domestic resource mobilization, to make sure that the level of investment that is needed to get the change required is there.

This event was a dynamic and open discussion, amplifying the voices of women and girls. It called upon global leaders from government, the private sector, civil society and development institutions to make commitments that will deliver transformative change on the new SDG targets on women’s economic empowerment.

The meeting secured concrete commitments for transforming women and girls’ economic opportunities under the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.