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Government has directed the Microfinance and Small Loans Centre (MASLOC) to disburse 50 percent of its loans to women to help bridge the gap in gender disparity that confronts the country in all economic fronts.


To boost their entrepreneurial and economic status, Government has also instituted a policy that would ensure that 70% of all government-funded contracts or projects are awarded to local contractors, out of which 30 percent would be awarded to women.


President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo made these known in an address at the 2018 Women Entrepreneurship Summit in Accra on Tuesday.


President Akufo-Addo identified women’s economic empowerment as one of the world’s most promising areas of investment that had the potential to reduce or eradicate poverty and widespread unemployment. 


He said women’s empowerment had been given a tremendous boost by the implementation of government’s Free Senior High School (SHS) Policy,  as ninety thousand more students— majority of whom were girls— entered SHS than in 2016,


President Akufo-Addo was emphatic that the educational reforms that encompassed the scaling up of technical and vocation education training would benefit many young girls, especially the youth with the skills necessary for the construction of a modern economy.


He said with the significant number of women that formed the majority in farming activities in the country, it was more prudent that more women took advantage of government’s flagship programme of Planting for Food and Jobs.

The President said apart from economic and educational reforms, aimed at women’s empowerment and entrepreneurship, his government was also aware of the critical importance of enhancing women’s participation in the governance of the country, adding that the two sides of political and economic reform reflected two sides of the same coin for promoting gender equality and women’s empowerment.


Government, he said, was, therefore, making systematic efforts to meet the goal of gender parity in the distribution of public offices, both at the centre and at the districts.


On the restructuring of the National Board for Small-scale Industries (NBSSI) undertaken by Government, President Akufo-Addo noted that Ghanaians would shortly see an institution with a renewed drive on providing first class enterprise development services to MSMEs.


“It will co-ordinate all programmes designed to integrate the MSMEs into agricultural and industrial value chains with market linkages to investment opportunities, being promoted by the Ministry of Trade and Industry, under our flagship “One District, One Factory” initiative, and other industrial initiatives, and by the Ministry of Food and Agriculture under the programme for Planting for Food and Jobs,” he said. 


Realization of SDG No. 5


As co-Chair of the SDG Advocates Group of Eminent Personalities, President Akufo-Addo noted that the realization of SDG No. 5 by the target date of 2030, required government to work towards gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls.


The President noted that over the past decade, the number of women entrepreneurs had increased considerably.


“Be they in agro-processing, creative arts, textile or clothing design, the financial or trading sectors, women entrepreneurs have become an important part of the entrepreneurial landscape, with latest figures from the NBSSI indicating that 44% of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) are owned by women,” he added. 


President Akufo-Addo was confident that this number could be increased if more women entrepreneurs were given the maximum push and support in their endeavours.


He disclosed that through Government’s flagship agricultural initiative, the Programme for Planting for Food and Jobs, five hundred thousand farmers, as opposed to two hundred thousand, last year, are, this year, covered by this programme, which seeks to enhance agricultural productivity through the provision of improved seedlings, subsidized fertilizers and extension officers to farmers.


He said women’s economic empowerment was one of the world’s most promising areas of investment with almost instant results, i.e. the reduction and eventual eradication of poverty and widespread unemployment.


Source: ISD (Rex Mainoo Yeboah)