The Minister for Gender, Children and Social Protection has touted Ghana’s achievement of almost reducing by half, the proportion of population living in extreme poverty at the 58th Session of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW), in New York, USA.
According to Nana Oye Lithur, Ghana is on track to achieving target one of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) because Ghana’s national poverty rate of people living below the upper poverty line has dropped from 51.7% in 1991 to 28.5% in 2006, while extreme poverty incidence reduced from 36.5% to 18.2%. The poverty gap ratio in Ghana has continued to decline from 36 in 1991/92 to 34 in 2005/06. The trend indicates a decline to approximately 25% in 2014.
The head of Ghana’s delegation to the Commission disclosed that, Ghana continues to give highest priority to the attainment of the MDGs within the framework of the Ghana Shared Growth and Development Agenda (GSGDA).
“Since poverty is a general contributing factor impeding the achievement of some MDGs, Ghana has, as part of its response, launched a National Social Protection Strategy (NSPS). Projects implemented under the NSPS include Ghana’s Livelihood Empowerment Against Poverty (LEAP) cash transfer program which was introduced in 2008 to provide a safety net for the poorest and most marginalized groups in the Ghanaian society, notably the 20 percent poorest.
“…Over 74,000 households are currently on LEAP with 56.37% of the beneficiaries being women. LEAP provides free enrollment on the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS). Research shows that this program has reduced food insecurity for LEAP families by 25% for all families and 32% for families headed by females with major impact on nutritional levels,” The Gender, Children and Social Protection Minister revealed.
She further deposed that the Labour Intensive Public Works program under the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development (MLGRD) generates seasonal employment for extreme poor in 40 Districts and has 57.9% of its beneficiaries being women.
“…Other key interventions include the Savannah Accelerated Development Authority (SADA) which aims at bridging the poverty gap between the northern and southern Ghana. The Microfinance and Small Loan Center (MASLOC) offers small-scale credit and loans to small and medium enterprises. About 99% of the funds have been allocated to women. The Local Enterprises and Skills Development Program (LESDEP) provide training, start-up equipment and financial support for unemployed youth and have benefited many young women,” she told the CSW.
Nana Oye Lithur also touched on Ghana’s impressive progress over the last two decades in promoting gender equality in access to primary education though gender disparity in school enrolment and retention continues to be a challenge.
The percentage of girls’ enrolment in primary school, she says, has increased between academic years 2002/03 to 2012/13 from 47.6% to 48.8%. The Gross enrolment rate was measured at 93.7%. Poverty has however been identified as the most significant factor in gender disparities in the completion of education.
Nana Oye Lithur maintained that, “a number of strategic policies, programs and interventions have been implemented to achieve national and international targets. These include the Education Strategy Plan (2003) and the 2010 Education Strategy Plan. These provide a framework for achieving Ghana’s objectives and the targets are gender parity by 2005 and universal primary completion by 2015. The 2007 National Education Reform and Education Act in 2008 introduced free and compulsory kindergarten education for all children aged 4 to 5. Other government interventions include creation of a Girl Education Directorate, free scholarships for girls, building female teacher role models for girls, and abolition of school fees in all basic schools. Additionally, 596,089 pupils across Ghana are provided with one hot meal a day”.