On visit to Ghana, UN development chief lauds progress on women’s empowerment

Helen Clark (third left seated) with women leaders in Ghana

15 July 2010 – United Nations development chief Helen Clark has lauded the progress made by Ghana towards women’s empowerment and gender equality, one of the eight social and economic objectives known as the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) that world leaders have pledged to achieve by 2015.

Miss Clark, who is Administrator of the UN Development Programme (UNDP), was impressed by the “tremendous amount of activity on the legal framework for women,” she said yesterday as she began her three-day visit to the country.

This included the adoption of the Domestic Violence Legislation in 2007, a UNDP supported initiative, and the creation of a domestic violence victims support unit within local police departments.

Ghana has also made strides in education, including encouraging girls to stay in school by constructing women’s dormitories in secondary schools, providing school supplies and uniforms to needy girls, and offering meals, among other things.

Miss Clark met with women leaders in the capital, Accra, including government ministers and other senior officials. UNDP has been supporting the country’s efforts to enable more women to enter political life and serve in government positions.

The Administrator also discussed efforts towards some of the other MDGs, such as reducing maternal mortality, which is often the goal on which the least progress has been achieved.

Continuing her visit today, Miss Clark said that Africa’s economic prospects are encouraging, citing a recent report from the International Monetary Fund (IMF), which projects that Sub-Saharan Africa will be the second-fastest growing region in the world this year and next.

“As an important contributor to the global economy, Africa is not part of the problem. Africa is part of the solution,” she said.

At the same time, she warned that while robust growth is required to meet the MDGs, this alone will not be enough.

The MDGs will also top the agenda tomorrow in Madrid, where Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon will attend the first meeting of the advocacy group he set up last month to help spur action towards achieving the Goals.

He is expected to tell the eminent personalities that make up the group that they are there to help translate “the rhetoric of good intentions into results,” UN spokesperson Farhan Haq said.

“He will also stress the need to identify strategic opportunities and build awareness in the fight against poverty and in reaching the Millennium Development Goals,” Mr. Haq added.

The meeting of the group, co-chaired by Spanish Prime Minister José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero and Rwandan President Paul Kagame, comes ahead of the high-level MDG Summit that will take place at UN Headquarters in New York in September.


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