Minister-designate for Gender and Social Protection, Otiko Afisah Djaba – whose approval is hanging in parliament after she had gone through the vetting process – is in New York representing the country at the United Nations (UN) Summit.
The NDC minority blocked her approval in the House on Friday, saying she showed disrespect for former President John Mahama.
However, Otiko, who is unfazed about the NDC’s obvious agenda, is representing President Akufo-Addo at the UN function.
Ghana is determined to strengthen its efforts at eradicating poverty through increased investments in human development, social inclusion and insurance for the wellbeing and dignity of all citizens.
Addressing the 55th UN Session of the Commission for Social Development in New York, Madam Otiko Afisah Djaba outlined many policies, programmes and interventions under a comprehensive legal and policy framework to consolidate the gains made towards the creation of a just and equitable society and called for global partnerships to make them successful.
The event, being held at the world body’s headquarters, is on the theme, “Strategies for Eradicating Poverty to Achieve Sustainable Development for All.”
It is providing various platforms for members of the Commission and other key stakeholders, including civil society organisations, to advance the dialogue and efforts towards the eradication of poverty, targeting issues related to ageing, indigenous people, the family, the youth, disability and cooperatives.
Madam Djaba stated, “As a country, our objectives for the next 13 years are to halve the current percentage of poverty and augment employment opportunities for the poor through productive inclusion and decent work to ensure social security and social insurance. Our progress shall be measured by the SDGs.”
Ghana’s poverty level fell by more than half – 56.5 per cent, to 24.2 per cent – from 1992 to 2013, thereby achieving the Millennium Development Goal One, according to the Ghana Poverty Inequality Report, 2016.
However, poverty levels remain very high in especially the three Northern Regions, with the Upper West recording the highest of more than 70 per cent. Explaining the commitment of the government in achieving more towards a society that would leave no one behind, Madam Djaba said 50 per cent of the loans disbursed by the Micro Finance and Small Loans Centre (MASLOC) would be given to women to improve their financial status and contribution towards economic growth.
On the political front, she said concrete strategies would be implemented to increase the participation of women by at least 30 per cent; and to push for the passage of the Affirmative Action Bill to promote and achieve gender equity.
As part of efforts to improve access and retention in school, the beneficiaries under the School Feeding Programme would be increased from 1.7 million to 3 million pupils, she said. In addition to efforts at promoting Free Universal Basic Education, Ghana, she said, would also introduce a Free Senior High School Policy so that majority of its children would attain secondary education.
Madam Djaba said a comprehensive social and pension scheme would be implemented to cover the most vulnerable, while increasing access by the aged to social welfare services such as free transport. “Our target is to increase access to formal social security for 75 per cent of Ghanaians of working age and for 50 per cent of persons of old age by 2030,” she explained.
This would complement the gains being made by the Livelihoods Empowerment Against Poverty (LEAP) programme – under which stipends are paid to the extreme poor – the National Health Insurance, Capitation Grant and other pro-poor programmes.
“We are also committed to expanding and building micro and small industries as well as agro-based enterprises in every district to provide social employment to the youth, the poor and the vulnerable and building small-scale dams in arid communities, especially in the northern part of the country, to boost agricultural production and improve food security,” she stated.
“We would also work to reduce and finally eradicate the phenomenon of female head porters, known as kayayei in Ghanaian parlance, while combating child trafficking with significant investments in coastal communities, where the incident is prevalent,” she disclosed.
Nigeria’s Minster of Women Affairs and Social Development, Senator Aisha Jummai Alhassan, who delivered a speech on behalf of the African Group, called for fair and equal access to the global market to bring in the requisite revenue for the continent’s socio-economic progress.