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General News of Tuesday, 9 February 2010

Source: GNA

Poverty levels in Ghana reducing - Living Standard Survey reveals

Sunyani (B/A), Feb 9, GNA - National Poverty Headcount has reduced from 39.5 percent in 1998/1999 to 28.5 percent in 2005/2006, a report by the Ghana Living Standard Survey has revealed.

According to the report, extreme poverty fell from 27 percent to about 18 percent in the same period.

Hajia Hawawu Boya Gariba, Deputy Minister of Women and Children 's Affairs made this known at the opening ceremony of a national training workshop on Gender Responsive Budgeting (GRB) for Regional Coordinating Councils and Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies in Sunyani on Monday.

Participants attending the three-day workshop, sponsored by the United Nations Fund for Population (UNFPA), are from Ashanti, Brong-Ahafo, Northern, Upper East and Upper West Regions.

It is being organized by the Ministry of Women and Children Affairs. The GRB is a process or tool that attempts to assess the impact of the national budget on different groups of women, men, boys and girls, by recognizing the ways in which gender relationship affect society and the economy.

Hajia Gariba explained that there were geographical variations in poverty levels, variations in economic groupings was highest among food crops farmers.

She noted that even though, there had been slow but steady improvements in Ghana with regard to women's and girl's education and health levels, progress was off-track on targets for economic empowerment of women. "Women consistently lag behind men in formal labour force participation, access to credit, entrepreneurship rates, income levels an= d inheritance and ownership rights," Hajia Gariba said.

She said improvement in access to quality education, skill training and health, were necessary but not sufficient for economic empowerment of wom= en.

The Deputy Minister said the potential for widening choices and inco= mes that quality education, skills training and good health provide, would no= t be realized if norms, rules and regulations that restricted or prohibited=

women's ability to realize these potentials continued to exist. A lower portion of women, 8.6 percent are estimated to be in paid employment compared to men 26.9 percent in 2005/2006, Hajia Gariba stated= .. She added that no progress had been made in reducing the proportion of women who were unpaid workers, indicating that the proportion increased f= rom 24.5 percent in 1998/1999 to 28.5 percent in 2005/2006.

Hajia Gariba emphasized that addressing gender imbalances does lead to growth, and government at all levels had a role to play in promoting gend= er equity and equality.

She stated that already government had put in place gender sensitive= polices and legislation adopted by the GRB, including the need to ensure equal access to essential services; addressing barriers for doing busines= s, and challenges in relation to financing and credit, and also in monitoring the impacts of policies and programmes on the different genders.

Hajia Gariba explained that gender equality and women's empowerment were key dimensions to ensuring sustainable development. She said as part of efforts for promoting gender equality and women'= s economic empowerment, the government in 2007 gave approval for piloting G= RB in Ghana.

Hajia Gariba said following cabinet approval for this initiative, a technical committee made up of experts from Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning, National Development Planning Commission, Ministry of Women and Children Affairs, and personnel of the piloting Municipal and District Assemblies, were put together to fashion out operation of gender budgeting in Ghana.

She said gender mainstreaming and budgeting had now been recognized as a global development strategy, and therefore very relevant if the country=

wanted to achieve accelerated economic growth and development. Mrs. Joana Opare, a Gender Consultant who presided, noted that gende= r issues had been a core of development interventions, and advised the participants to take the workshop serious and understand gender issues properly. The participants would be taken through gender planning and mainstreaming, introduction to gender analysis, planning and budgeting cycle, tools for gender budgeting and gender needs.

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