STAR-Ghana Foundation, a Civil Society Organisation (CSO), has launched a three-year programme to increase access to rights and quality social services for women and girls.
The programme dubbed; “Gender Rights and Empowerment Programme (GREP)” is intended to be achieved through increasing the effectiveness of civil society advocacy for women and girls’ political and social rights, particularly rights to inclusive and quality social services and participation in public governance.
Funded by Foreign Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) of the United Kingdom (UK) government, the programme would cover Central, Eastern and Volta, Northern, Upper East and Upper West.
Launching the programme in Accra on Thursday, the Minister-Designate for Gender, Children and Social Protection, Mrs Lariba Zuweira Abudu, said achieving women and girls’ rights was critical to the country’s socio-economic development.
She said women constituted majority of the country’s population and harnessing women’s political, social and economic potentials would not only improve family and societal welfare and status, but also the progress of the nation.
Mrs Abudu said despite several policies and administrative provisions to promote women’s political rights, women continued to be confronted with barriers to accessing and exercising their rights to equal participation in governance and decision making.
“ For example, out of a membership of 275 parliamentarians in the 8th parliament, only 40 are women, and out of 30 ministers of state, only six are women, and there is only one female among 16 Regional Ministers. Similar trends is seen regarding female MMDCEs and District Assembly Members,” she stated.
She called for increased participation of women and girls in national development and provision of resources to support the Domestic Violence Fund.
Mrs Abudu expressed her ministry’s commitment to collaborate to provide education to communities, effectively enforce policies on children’s rights and support families and girls, through the Livelihood Empowerment Against Poverty (LEAP) to ensure girls did not lose out on education.
The Executive Director of STAR-Ghana Foundation, Alhaji Ibrahim TankoAmidu said the Foundation was focused on increasing the effectiveness of Civil Society’s influence for inclusive development, and access to public services for citizens, particularly women and girls.
He noted that complex issues such as cultural practices and religious beliefs, and systemic challenges at the state level prevented the realisation of gender rights in the country.
Alhaji Amidu called for increased advocacy and awareness creation on the rights of women and girls, and the need for them to be empowered to achieve a more inclusive society.
The Team Leader, Human Development, UK FCDO, MrsEnyonamAzumah said the UK was committed to promoting gender equality in Ghana, as no country could flourish if half of its population was left behind.
She said globally, civil society backing had been significant for influencing changes in law and approaches, hence, FCDO commitment to providing £580,000 through STAR-Ghana Foundation to 18 CSOs to champion the rights and empowerment of women and girls in Ghana through the GREP.
Mrs Azumah said the project was consistent with the second priority of UK’s International Development Strategy to provide women and girls the freedom they needed to succeed by educating, empowering and ending violence against them.
BY VIVIAN ARTHUR