Panellists at the Ghana Economic Forum (GEF) have called on industry players, government and other stakeholders to equip women with the needed technical and financial skills for them to give of their best for the country’s development.
The panellists, drawn from different sectors of the economy – creatives, capacity building, agribusiness and data-gathering – were speaking on the topic ‘Women in business: Overcoming hurdles to Building Sustainable Products and brands for National Development’.
Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Dzigbordi Consulting Group, Dzigbordi Dosoo, was of the view that even though women’s participation at the decision-making level is low, with the right programmes and policies in place they will jump all hurdles hindering their abilities.
She is optimistic that women can be game-changers when they are recognised and given full capacity to work.
“This can happen within the next couple of years while we are still in this recession: the seamless transition from corporate to entrepreneurship and vice versa; to use the skills that we as women have developed over time.
“There are opportunities to make money and create value. But the key thing is there’s work to do, and that work evolves through things. First, putting the ecosystem together; understanding, getting data, bringing these groups together; look at how you will equip them with the necessary skills – being technical skills and human skills – which are relevant in making money.
“When women are equipped, they do wonders; they can do way better when equipped. And with this 50 percent women participatory framework, access to trade and financing can be achieved. We just need to develop people and identify the right policies; we need to intervene now,” she stressed.
Jesse Jacintho, Head of legal Services at GCB Bank, was of the opinion that policymakers need to be deliberate about putting women in executive roles, even though some women have no idea about the 40 percent framework that empowers them to higher ranks.
She added that for women’s participation in the national development agenda, they should be selected devoid of partisanship.
“Though the framework is there, I think its communication is very low. I don’t know how many women even know that the 40 percent framework policy is there to empower women to get to that level. There is also an educational gap, and women need to direct their energies to particular things,” she said.
“It is true that in the corporate world women are under-represented at the executive level or top managerial work. Not enough education is out there. Laws have been passed: Article 19 of the Constitution talks about empowering women, and laws have been passed to have, at least, two or three women on public boards. We are playing in a very male-dominated society, and it’s not giving women opportunities to come forth and be role-models for young ladies to aspire to higher heights.
“I think they have to be deliberate about them, and when it comes to women they should eschew partisanship. If you want a woman that has expertise, you will definitely get it without party colours. If we don’t deliberately do it, then there will be good stuff left out there because it’s not from my party,” Ms. Jacintho said.
Speaking on measures being taken by some institutions in overcoming hurdles with regard to women’s participation, General Manager for Guinness Ghana Brewery PLC, Helene Weesie, noted that they are starting with young women in universities by training and giving them graduate programmes – especially in the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) field.
She is of the belief that this will go a long way to give them requisite skills for the job market, be it entrepreneurial or corporate.