Empowering women: Moral imperative or strategic necessity for socio-economic dev’t?


By Juliet ETEFE

Over time, the agenda to empower the girlchild and by extension women in the quest to drive inclusivity in development has been on the lips of many especially some of us lovers of gender and development.

As the world evolves and countries strive for progress, it has become undeniable truth that empowering the girlchild who grows into womanhood— importantly not leaving behind the boychild — is not just a moral imperative but also a strategic necessity for socio-economic development.

This year’s International Women’s Day is on the theme Invest in Women: Accelerate Progress and on the campaign theme ‘Inspire Inclusion’. These themes resonate deeply in today’s world, where women continue to face systemic barriers and inequalities; and where gender disparities persist, hindering women’s full participation and potential.

This day reminds us of the necessity of creating environments where women can thrive and contribute meaningfully to socio-economic growth.

In a developing country like Ghana, these themes hold particular significance, as they point out the need to harness the potential of women to propel the nation forward. The urgent need to increase the country’s effort in better positioning the girlchild and its women becomes more salient especially when women constitute a significant portion of the country’s workforce and contribute substantially to its economy.

But how should Ghana, a 67th proud nation of about 31 billion people view this day?

Looking ahead, the country needs to come to the realisation that empowering women is not just a moral imperative but a strategic necessity for socio-economic development. And this shift in mindset must start from seeing a change in access to education, healthcare, economic opportunities, and leadership.

Women represent a vast, untapped resource whose potential can drive innovation, growth, and prosperity but without investment and intentionality, this will be just a mirage.

Education is key: Access to quality education is fundamental in empowering women and girls. Despite commendable efforts to improve educational opportunities for all, disparities persist, particularly in rural areas. This is unhidden truth as the media shows on a daily basis the ordeal of our rural schools. Investing in girls’ education not only enhances their prospects but also yields broader societal benefits, including reduced poverty and improved health outcomes. By prioritising education for girls, Ghana can ensure a more equitable and prosperous future for all. With education looking rosy in the urban areas, our leaders blindly see what our younger sisters from the rural areas face to climb up the ladder.

Empowering women entrepreneurs: Being a writer of the Inspiring Startups Column, I have a strong conviction that entrepreneurship presents a pathway to economic empowerment for women in Ghana. By providing support and resources to women entrepreneurs, such as access to finance, training, and mentorship programmes, Ghana can foster a culture of innovation and economic growth. Empowered women entrepreneurs not only contribute to Gross Domestic Products but also serve as role models, inspiring future generations of women to pursue their entrepreneurial dreams.

Healthcare access and well-being: Access to healthcare remains a critical issue for many Ghanaian women, particularly in rural and underserved communities. Investing in healthcare infrastructure, maternal health services, and family planning initiatives is essential to ensure women’s well-being and reduce maternal mortality rates. Furthermore, addressing cultural and societal barriers to healthcare access is paramount in promoting gender equality and women’s rights to health.

Leadership and representation: Women’s representation in leadership positions remains disproportionately low in Ghana, reflecting broader systemic challenges of gender inequality. Though there have been some improvements across sectors, investing in initiatives that promote women’s political participation and leadership is essential for achieving gender parity in decision-making processes. By breaking down barriers and creating inclusive spaces for women in politics, business, and other sectors, Ghana can harness the diverse perspectives and talents of its population to drive progress and innovation.

When all the aforementioned is worked at, it will help to better position the girlchild, but also importantly not leave the boychild behind as equity should be the rule of this agenda.

As the world commemorates International Women’s Day 2024, the themes of “Invest in Women: Accelerate Progress” and “Inspire Inclusion” serve as powerful reminders of the urgent need to prioritise gender equality and create inclusive societies where everyone has the opportunity to thrive.

By investing in women’s empowerment and fostering inclusion, we can build a more equitable, prosperous, and sustainable world for future generations. It is through collective action and unwavering commitment that we can truly accelerate progress and inspire lasting change.

On this day when the world stops to celebrate the pivotal role that women play in driving economic growth, fostering innovation, and building resilient communities, I congratulate the many girls, ladies or women who have kept their heads up and continue to strive for higher heights and breaking the ceilings despite the shaking floors.

Happy International Women’s Day 2024!!!

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