The Central Regional Director of the Department of Gender, Ms Paulina Tangoba Abayage, has said though Ghanaian women faced a number of challenges, the numerous social interventions initiated by the government had helped to improve their status over the years.
She said girls of today were far better in terms of skills, training, education and status than those born 30 years ago.
Ms Abayage said this at a day?s forum organized by the University of Cape Coast (UCC) Faculty of Sciences Centre for Gender Research and Documentation to mark this year?s International Women?s day in Cape Coast .
The forum was attended by more than 300 participants from Ghana Police, Fire, Prison services and female students from Ghana National College, Aggrery Memorial Zion School , Holy Child School as well as female staff of UCC and was on the Theme ?Empowering Women, Empowering Humanity ; Make it Happen?.
Ms Abayage commended the government for signing onto a number of conventions and protocols which had made it possible for it to initiate projects and programmes that had helped with the empowerment and development of women.
She said for instance in addressing the poverty needs of women the government had put in place the LEAP, Capitation Grant, School Feeding Programme and NHIS which had gone a long way to alleviate poverty among rural women.
Touching on women and decision making, she said it was still a major problem facing the democratic dispensation in the country.
sMs Abayege said women were still saddled with financial problems, negative cultural perceptions and the issue of how to convince their husbands and family members to support their stand and that women could participate in politics if they were given the needed support .
On the girl child, she said more girls were now in school but expressed regret that many of them dropped out before they got to the tertiary level due to pregnancy.
She said many of the maternal deaths recorded were partly due to illegal abortions.
Ms Abayage said more women were now assessing health care at health facilities and were also patronizing programmes like antenatal and post natal care as well as family planning and HIV/AIDS, breast and cervical cancer counseling sessions, adding that mother to child HIV/AIDS infections had reduced from 90 to 23 cases and that malaria cases had also reduced among children.
Ms Abayage said though the nation had chalked a number of successes in empowering women, it was still faced with issues such as low representation at the decision making level, inadequate access to political power, negative cultural practices, gender inequality as well as the non-recognition of the role of women in nation and family building.
She said in addition, lack of the enforcement of laws concerning women, in adequate finances, and lack data on gender issues were still militating against the advancement of women in the country.
Professor Kofi Awusabo-Asare, the Director of Academic Planning and Quality Assurance of UCC, said there was the need to critically look at the 12 critical areas mentioned in the Beijing plus 20 action plan.
He said it would be difficult for Ghanaian women to gain total empowerment if there was no political commitment on women issues and asked the public to take on political parties that did not cater for the needs of women in their manifestoes.
Prof Awusabo-Asare said Ghanaian women could reach the highest level if they were given the needed support, skills and training and appealed to women to take full advantage of the various social interventions provided by the government to improve upon their living conditions.