The National Democratic Congress (NDC) has rolled out an agenda for women empowerment, promising to deal decisively with the socio-cultural beliefs that have barred a large section of women from earning income.

Mr John Mahama, running mate of the party’s presidential candidate, said despite the positive steps the NDC government had taken in the past to deal with the problem through enactment of legislations and the adoption of an affirmative action policy, gender inequalities were still pervasive and gender gaps remained widespread.

He said the country’s quest for accelerated economic development and growth would remain mere wishes, unless attempts were made to provide equal opportunity to women who constitute about 51 per cent of the country’s population.

Mr Mahama was speaking at a Vice Presidential Dialogue, dubbed: “Women’s Dialogue on Elections 2008 in Accra on Thursday.

The Dialogue was organised by Women in Law and Development in Africa as a platform for gender activists to interact with five running mates of presidential candidates.

Mr Mahama said to strengthen the position of Ghanaian women in senior government positions, emphasis would be placed on women’s rights and participation in decision-making at all levels whilst ensuring that gender sensitive language was used in all public policy and in-house records.

There will be legislative and policy reforms to give minimum of 40 per cent representation to women in senior government positions.

Besides, NDC government will promote increased access to education, health, employment and socio-economic infrastructure and services.

Mr Mahama said micro-credit institutions would be coordinated to achieve best practices.

The budget process will be reviewed to take on board the needs and interest of women in national planning.

Mr Mahama, who had to leave due to a pre-engaged programme, had his position taken over by Ms Hannah Tetteh during the question an answer session.

The dialogue had originally scheduled for between nine O’clock and 12 noon but had to be shifted because of the state funeral for Mr Kwadwo Baah-Wiredu, the late Minister of Finance and Economic Planning.

Responding to a question on empowering women economically, Ms Tetteh said the NDC government would improve the agricultural sector as a means of improving the livelihood of the people.

She stressed the need for access to micro-credit through rural and community banks to enable women to engage in meaningful economic activities.

On the question of employment of people with disability, Ms Tetteh said there must be sensitisation of the people as first step to getting them to understand the plight of disabled.

In addition, NDC government would adopt affirmative action to ensure that they were employed in the public and private sectors.

Other questions were on public safety and security, education and health.

Source: GNA