The Deputy Governor of the Bank of Ghana Mrs Elsie Addo Awadzie has noted that, 37.5 per cent of businesses in Ghana is owned by women which is not enough to promote economic development in the Country.
Therefore, she said there should be mechanisms to empower women to access financial services because, women make about 50 per cent of the growing population in Africa, yet women remain untapped resources and hence needs to be encouraged to harness their full potential in every environment they find themselves.
She said this is because, women are known to have the potential to transform and positively impact their households, communities, businesses and the country in general.
She expressed this concern at the Maiden edition of the National Women’s Dialogue which was launched and organised organized by the POS Foundation, a non-governmental organisation, with funding from the GIZ, Ghana yesterday in Accra.
The program was themed: “Gender Equality, Women Economic Empowerment and Access to Justice, Requisites and SME Growth in Ghana.”
Stressing ways to empower women economically, Mrs Awadzie pointed out that, there should be several mechanisms to empower women to access financial services to invest in their businesses to develop themselves economically.
She said more women must be encouraged to take advantage of emerging technologies to run their businesses more efficiently and to improve their access to finance.
Mrs Awadzi advised women in SMEs to take advantage of special products put in place for them at financial and microfinance institutions.
More banks and specialized deposit-taking institutions are introducing innovative financial products for women entrepreneurs as part of the efforts to improve access to finance for Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs), she said.
“Thanks to the opportunities presented by the rapid growth of mobile money and digital financial services in Ghana, a number of financial institutions now provide micro-credit to women in the informal sector to support their retail or agricultural businesses for example,” Mrs Awazdi said.
According to the Second Deputy Governor, women all over the world today still struggle to maintain their place in the society especially when they occupy top positions in the corporate world.
Touching on the legal framework, the Second Deputy Governor mentioned that, expected outcomes of national women’s dialogue is to create awareness on fundamental human rights and laws regarding Women entrepreneurs and businesses.
She said there was the need to remove the obstacles that women continued to face in their endeavour to meaningfully impact the socio-economic development of the nation.
Again, Madam Awadzie mentioned that, there should be awareness on barriers especially socio-cultural intimidation and impediments that relate to their businesses as well as possible policies or initiatives to enhance women’s access to justice.
“Also create awareness on how to raise capital and available funding initiatives to sustainably grow their business,” She noted.
Some study shows that women are 26 per cent less likely to be employed by men and they are also likely to be paid 24 per cent less than their male counterparts, she indicated.
“Women face challenges in securing senior roles at work and come about with low salaries,” she pointed out.
Since they are vulnerable to inequality in the society, Madam Awadzie pointed out that, they make about 100 per cent in the food processing sector but don’t get well compensated for their work.
Giving the welcome address, the Executive Director of POS Foundation, Mr. Jonathan Osei Owusu said the main objective of the Women’s dialogue was to sensitize, inform and empower entrepreneurs on their fundamental human rights and law relating to their business livelihoods.
“The program was envisioned to discuss challenges facing women in the society and their businesses while proposing solutions,” he said.
Mr. Owusu said his organisation and the GIZ were undertaking the Dialogue initiative to empower women in all sectors of the Ghanaian economy.
He said the series would be replicated in Kumasi and Tamale to mobilise women and empower them with the right information and resources to propel them to higher economic heights.
Speakers for the occasion were dignitaries in governance and women entrepreneurs such as, the President of Market women Association, Ghana, Honourable Mercy Naa Afrowah, A Professor at the Department of Sociology, Akosua Darkwah, the Chief Executive Officer of Innovative Microfinance Limited, Sheila Azuntaba and the Executive Director and Leader of Georgette Barnes Ltd, Mrs Goergette Barnes.
In attendance where female students from institutions, market women, corporate women organisations, women groups and the media.
By: Nii Okai Tagoe
Editor: Dennis Adjei Boateng