Market women across the country, have benefited from a two-day training programme on women empowerment.
Businesses in the non-formal sector contribute significantly to the growth of the economy and more women working in the informal sector are women.
Notwithstanding the important role market women play in the country there are some gaps that hinders their progress.
To address these gaps, the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection organized the first ever National Market Women Conference in Accra to empower and build the capacity of market women to enable them advance their welfare.
The Conference which was part of a series of conferences being held across some selected regions in the country to empower market women for economic prosperity saw participants educated onhow to use technology to access markets, such as mobile phones, effective trading, financial literacy, business development trainings, setting up of micro-credit schemes, taxation, health and sanitary concerns in markets, and sexual harassment at market places.
Speaking at the conference, the First Lady Mrs. Lordina Mahama, noted that if Ghana was able to tackle gender inequality; it will enhance greater economic productivity, and improve opportunities for the next generation, and make policies and regulations friendlier for the small stall operator.
She stated that the Food and Agriculture Organization, of the United Nations, estimates that if women had the same access to productive resources as men, they could increase yields on their farms, by 20 to 30 percent. This she believes will help bring about prosperity, and reduced hunger in Ghana and indeed globally.
‘’Let us break down barriers limiting women’s growth, and empowerment, and increase opportunities for women, to contribute to the country’s economic growth,’’ she said.
The First Lady asserted that markets play an important role, in the socio-economic life of people, as they facilitate the exchange of goods and services, create employment, and serve as a major source of revenue for many local authorities in developing countries.
She argues that the small market stalls operated from various markets are at the heart of the country’s economy, and therefore cannot be neglected by policymakers.
She said Government is engaged currently, in modernizing most of the traditional markets in the country, and improving the general environment in which traders work.
“Government is committed to establishing avenues for women, to access financial resources to invest in their businesses.There is therefore a commitment to elevate businesses of women, from micro to small and medium scale enterprise level, through an increase in their access to credit’’ she said.
Mrs. Mahama, noted that with more opportunities to start and manage viable business, greater access to land, education and skills development, and more opportunities to participate in decision-making, women could pull themselves out of poverty, and improve their quality of life of their families and communities.
She stressed that government considers women’s economic empowerment, a key priority, in the development agenda, and views it as fundamental in addressing problems, like poverty and gender-based violence
Mrs. Mahama, announced that Microfinance and Small Loans Centre (MASLOC), intends to support over fifteen thousand (15,000) people, in the small and medium scale enterprises sector, in addition to disbursing funds to over two hundred thousand (200,000) people, engaged in food-crop farming and food marketing.
For her part, Nana Oye Lithur, Minister for Gender, Children and Social Protection, said market women must be equipped with the required skills and information to help them pull themselves out of poverty to improve the quality of their lives, that of their families and communities.
Prior to that, she said the market women are being train to manage viable business, to secure greater access to land, and to maximise opportunities around them.
Nana Oye Lithur, announced that about 200 market women in the Ashanti, Brong Ahafo and Greater Accra regions have undergone practical training in financial management, leadership, use of technology to enhance work, basic health care and many others.
President of the Greater Accra Market Women Association, Mercy Nii Djan, expressed gratitude to government for his effort to improve various markets all over the country. She also thanked the Gender Minister for her unrelenting efforts to bring the issues of concern to market women to the fore including soliciting their contributions for national policies such as the new Gender Policy.
Madam Mercy Nii Djan, called for partnership between market associations and assemblies and other potential institutional partners in the public as well as the formal private sectors.
On behalf of the Market Women, Madam Mercy Djan, presented a communiqué, detailing their concerns to the Gender Ministry.