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Sun, Dec

STATESMAN OPINION: WE SALUTE MASLOC’S SUPPORT FOR WOMEN

Business & Economy

President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has directed that 50 per cent of funds available to the Microfinance and Small Loans Centre programme (MASLOC) should go to women engaged in small-scale farming and business. According to the President, the government has also put in place a deliberate policy of strengthening the capacity of local businesses by ensuring that 70 per cent of all government-funded contracts or projects are awarded to local contractors.

President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has directed that 50 per cent of funds available to the Microfinance and Small Loans Centre programme (MASLOC) should go to women engaged in small-scale farming and business. According to the President, the government has also put in place a deliberate policy of strengthening the capacity of local businesses by ensuring that 70 per cent of all government-funded contracts or projects are awarded to local contractors.

 

Issuing the directive, President Akufo-Addo added: “Out of this, initially 30 per cent of the contracts or projects are being awarded to women. Again, through the programme for Planting for Food and Jobs, our flagship agricultural initiative, 500,000 farmers, as opposed to 200,000 last year, are this year covered by this programme, which seeks to enhance agricultural productivity through the provision of improved seedlings, subsidised fertilisers and extension officers to farmers.”

The President’s decision to make the directive is based on a simple fact: there are more women than men in Ghana’s farming population, particularly among farmers in the informal economy.

Those engaged in the thick and thin of agriculture in our rural areas, and particularly crop farming, are women. Women lead at every level in agriculture as far as numbers are concerned – from labour to harvesting to marketing. Indeed, women are predominant.

We at the Daily Statesman agree with the oft-quoted saying, reputedly by Kwegyir Aggrey, that when you educate a man you educate an individual, whereas when you educate a woman you educate a whole society. Educating women produces greater social rewards, broadens the spread of self-fulfilment and creates improved living conditions. We believe that is also why the trend in development today focuses on women and vulnerable groups.

Perhaps that is also why the NPP government has embraced Ghana’s need to educate more girls. The government’s new policy direction made it possible for 90,000 more students, the majority of whom are girls, to enter Senior High School last year than in 2016.

That, we also believe, is why our educational reforms are scaling up technical and vocational training. This will benefit many young girls, and equip our youth with the skills necessary for Ghana to construct a modern economy.

Scores of emerging female entrepreneurs are setting up industries and creating new economic space for our teeming unemployed youth. They are keeping alive the tradition of Esther Ocloo’s Nkulenu Industries, making Ghana proud on the international market by producing cosmetics such as shea butter as well as processed food products. These new entrepreneurs have become a network of economic actors, helping the nation in their own small way to industrialise.

The best the government can do is to support them in line with its development tenets, which will help greatly to reduce poverty and unemployment.

We therefore encourage all women with the requisite skills to take advantage of the government’s drive and enroll with MASLOC. In doing so, they will contribute to the growth of Ghana’s economy and make an impact on lives in their communities.

Refreshingly, such packages also include training and education schemes, all aimed at ensuring the expansion of business for our collective benefit.

The MASLOC initiative is a distinct plus for the Akufo-Addo administration and we trust that sufficient monitoring will accompany the implementation, to ensure that the country realises the gains envisaged in the programme. Its fruits must become evident in the everyday lives of our people.

Educating, training and improving the lives of women are sure ways of making them part and parcel of the national conversation. This can only culminate in good governance, improved living conditions in our communities, and all-round holistic development.

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