The First Lady of the Republic of Ghana, H.E. Mrs Rebecca Akufo-Addo, has noted that greater gender equality boosts economic growth and leads to better development outcomes.

In an address delivered on her behalf at the opening of the 2018 Global Women Economic and Social Empowerment Summit (GWESES 2018) in Accra on Wednesday, July 4, 2018, Mrs Akufo-Addo, said when women were empowered, their participation in economic decision-making increased, thereby increasing their access to economic resources and opportunities including jobs, financial services, property, skills development and market information.

She said entrepreneurship provided the best way to be economically empowered as it offered women flexibility and convenience, especially when raising families while the use of technology resources for business development and growth was an added bonus for women entrepreneurs.

Mrs Akufo-Addo, therefore, called for sound policies and long-term commitment from all stakeholders in development to achieve gender equality and women’s empowerment, adding that there was the need to start by integrating gender-specific perspectives at the design stage of policies and programmes.

She underscored the importance of mentorship in the empowerment of women and commended the leadership of GWESES for its deliberate mentorship programme to raise the next generation of women leaders and entrepreneurs and urged them to continue inspiring women to set up and grow their businesses or social enterprises.

She called on women themselves to strive for leadership positions in order to effect changes in the socio-economic structure, adding that women and girls should use their voices to influence and advocate for empowerment to be at the centre of our economic development policy and strategy.

In a statement, Ms Penelope Jones-Mensah, President of the 40 Roses Foundation and Co-Founder of GWESES, noted that empowerment, equality and inclusion were not easily achieved and did not happen overnight.

Ms Jones-Mensah said gatherings such as GWESES were, therefore, necessary in bringing together a diverse group of women critical to that effort.

She pledged the commitment to engaging men as frontline advocates who served as role models and actively worked for the socio-economic empowerment of women.

She identified investment in the education and development of girls, both the privileged and the under-privileged, as a critical area deserving attention in that effort of empowering women.

In a welcome address, H.E. Rev. Dr Gifty Lamptey, Ambassador for Women’s Empowerment in Africa, stressed the need to actively deliberate on how best women could individually and collectively build and invest in their capacity to grow.

Rev. Dr Lamptey said one of the smartest solutions to gender inequality was more investment in women leaders as drivers of inclusive growth in the various communities and economies.

She stressed the need network with each other and share ideas with resounding voices that would generate a seismic shift for bold agendas and transformative economic progress for all women, and rededicated herself to investing in and mentoring the next generation of women leaders, business executives and entrepreneurs.

She challenged women not to “follow where the path may lead, but go instead where there is no path and trail blaze” as the beacon light for the women of Africa.

In his remarks, Mr Reginald Daniel Laryea, Chairman, Global Women Inventors & Innovators Network (GWIIN) — a global network which aims to increase the number of innovative women embracing enterprise —expressed the hope that GWESES 2018 would strive to lay out a blueprint for attaining the key components of the United Nations Agenda on the Equality and Empowerment of Women and Young Girls.

Present at the Summit were two First Ladies— Ms Patricia Beneby Minnis of Bahamas and Mrs Fatima Jabbe Maada-bio of Sierra Leone.

Ms Patricia Beneby Minnis urged women to become agents of change by exploring their uniqueness and talents, while Mrs Fatima Jabbe Maada-bio stressed the need to intensify efforts to end child marriage, teenage pregnancy and female genital mutilation.

On his part, Dr Bola Olabisi, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of GWIIN and Co-Founder of GWESES, said encouraging women to take on more leadership positions should be a priority of Government.

GWESES has become a key platform and catalyst to help realize United Nations’ priorities on equality and empowerment of women and girls.

GWESES 2018 took place under the Patronage of H.E. Rev Dr Gifty Lamptey, Ambassador for women’s empowerment in Africa and the GWIIN Chairman, Mr Reginald Laryea.

It was organized by GWIIN in partnership with the 40 Roses Foundation Ghana —an initiative which seeks to harness the power of successful women  to educate, mentor and empower socio-economically challenged girls with academic promise to enable them fulfil their maximum potential.

The GWESES 2018 was a follow up to previous GWIIN initiatives, including the first of the remarkable events held in Ghana in 2005, in partnership with GEM- International Finance Corporation, the private arm of the World Bank Group and Ghana’s Ministries of Women (MOWAC), and Trade & Industry (MoTI).

The theme for this year’s summit was Building and Investing in Our Capacity to Grow.

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