Government is pledging inclusivity and gender parity in ongoing efforts to sustainably promote science, technology and innovation in all spheres of national development.
According to the Environment Ministry, a National Research Fund (into which money equivalent to at least 1% of Ghana’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) will be invested) being established will also ensure the interest of women researchers is prioritised.
Currently, a bill to back the fund is in Parliament awaiting approval. The fund will be linked with the recently established Ghana Innovation and Research Commercialisation Centre (GIRC Centre) which will be driving call for proposals and shepherding of research funding initiatives.
Funding for the research that led to the setting up of the GIRC Center was provided by the Science Granting Councils Initiative (SGCI), a multi–funder Initiative aimed at strengthening the research capacities of 15 countries in Sub-Saharan Africa.
The model for the establishment of the National Research Fund was also based on that of an existing fund in South Africa which is one of the SGCI funding countries.
Special advisor to Prof. Kwabena Frimpong Boateng who is the Minister for Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation, Oliver Boachie, says the government is committed to ensuring that when the Center and the fund are up and running, the list of beneficiaries is inclusive of all people including persons with disability and women.
“Everything that we do as a government, we have it on our mind to ensure our female colleagues are not left behind. Our focus is to ensure the involvement of all. Everything we do, we have in mind the inclusion of everybody. We are not leaving any one behind,” he said in an interview.
“Once the framework is fully developed, special dispensation that must be put to ensure gender equality and ensure access to people with disability,” he added.
As part of the Government’s broader agenda to address the bigger problem of gender disparity, a lot of the appointed top officials at the ministry are women. “If you look at appointments and putting people in responsible positions, this government has been very progressive. In this ministry, a lot of top people are women.
The chief director, the director for human resources, the director for policy planning, and until about three months ago, the director for Science, Technology and Innovation are all women,” Mr. Boachie explained.
He says the ministry is also vigorously working to ensure females benefit from various educational projects aimed at encouraging Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) education.
“When I talked about STEM, I also talked about training our young women to be able to have the STI skills that will enable them to play an effective role in national development,” Mr Boachie said.
Deputy minister for Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation Madam Patricia Appiagyei recently assured women will be given increased priority when the fund and the center begin operating.
“The GIRC Center provides opportunity for female researchers and scientists to see their works commercialized and used by industry to enhance socio-economic development of the nation, thus taking their place and economic rights,” the Deputy Minister to said during the mark International during the Women’s Day.
“Knowledge and skills are important to include the gender perspective in policy, project and development plans pertaining to the field of renewable energy, energy efficiency, climate change, environmental protection and related Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs),” she added.
The Ministry of Environment, Science, Technology, and Innovation exists to promote sustainable environmental management and the adoption and application of STI for national development.
Mr. Boachie said efforts are being made to ensure sustainability in the technological innovations being promoted.
For example in the area of energy, there is an ongoing push to ensure there is less reliance on fossil fuels and increased attention on renewable forms of energy.
“Everything we do, whether its manufacturing, agro-processing, hospitals and schools, you need energy. Today, you can’t rely on fossil fuels because of the pollution that it causes and the environmental degradation that comes with it.
“And so renewable energy is one of the places that we are placing a lot of emphasis on,” Mr. Boachie explained.
“Solar, wind and even the conversion of waste into energy, all those are sources of energy that will help us save the environment and make us less dependent on fossil fuels,” he added.