Many women in Ghana who are the targets of the Millennium Development Goal Three (MDG-3) continue to be poor because they are apparently unaware of what the MDG-3 is all about.

At the World Summit in New York in 2000, world leaders committed themselves to promoting gender equality and empowerment through accelerated investment in women under the MDG-3.

The Ghana Poverty Reduction Strategy I and II, the government’s blue-print for poverty eradication which captures the MDG-3 in its policies, has become the benchmark for measuring the progress of women before 2015.

One of the women who fall in this category but who says she knows nothing about GPRS is Abena Kyeremeh, who hawks her goods at the Central Business District (CBD) of Accra in the morning and relocates to Kwame Nkrumah Circle area in the evening.

Ms Kyeremeh spoke to the Ghanaian Times about her work and explained that she is a single parent with two children whose needs must be met without their father’s support.

She said her parents are poor and they have nothing to offer her that is why she relocated to Accra and left her children in the care of her grandparents.

For her, she said work begins at sunrise when she goes to the Okaishie trade centre in the Central Business District to buy goods which she reckons will sell for the day from the traders.

The income she generates supports her on a daily basis but certainly does not cover a visit to the doctor in the event of an illness.

She described the life of a street hawker as stressful, characterised by chronic insecurity in the face of city authorities who see their presence as a nuisance.

The story was not different near the Novotel Hotel where The Times talked to some of the female porters (kayayei) who had taken shelter at a bus stop, with their bowls serving as pillows, some of them cuddling their children as they waited for the rain to subside that Saturday morning.

Amina who acted as their spokesperson, said, they came from the northern part of Ghana to Accra because of prevailing economic circumstances there.

She said those among them who have husbands transport their children to their fathers as soon as they are of age while they continue with the struggle to earn money in Accra.

Amina said those with children are sometimes compelled to carry loads with the children at their backs. Other times they take turns to look after the children while the others are at work for a fee.

According to the GPRS, the poverty line is the minimum amount of money one needs to obtain the basic needs which include food, water, clothing and shelter.

Mariam Tackie, Director of Women’s Department at the Ministry of Women and Children’s Affairs, told The Times that the Ministry had set up a strategic implementation plan in accordance with GPRS I and II.

One of the strategies is the provision of micro financing as working capital for women entrepreneurs who are disadvantaged in accessing loans from the traditional banks.

“This, it is hoped, will reduce poverty among women and improve their standard of living,” she said.

Mrs Tackie said part of the fund had been lodged with the rural banks and other micro credit units for rural and urban women folks to access.

She said so long as social and economic facilities are not evenly distributed, migration of people from the countryside to the urban areas would continue.

She said some of these women migrate to the cities to escape cultural practices such as female genital mutilation and forced marriages.

“Through UNICEF, we trained and gave some of these female porters in Accra sewing machines and transported them back to start a new life, but within a short time, most of them trooped back to Accra,” she said.

Mrs Tackie noted that they desire to come back because they make relatively more money as head porters. “What we can do now is to get them decent hostels and educate them about certain dangers in the city”.

She said most of the challenges they faced were common with people who migrate anywhere in the world to seek greener pastures, adding that though the Ministry had a broad mandate to take care of women and children, these women as individuals must be responsible for their children.

Source: The Ghanaian Times/Lawrence Markwei