Speech delivered Mrs. Ingrid Ansah at the SRC Women Empowerment Seminar

Speech delivered Mrs. Ingrid Ansah at the SRC Women Empowerment Seminar on the theme Unlocking the Potential of the 21st Century Woman on 10th November, 2016

Executive Chairman – Data Link Institute

Rev. Mrs. Tina Bella Goodman

Ms. Sandra Ankobiah

Members of Management Present

Faculty and staff Present

SRC Executive Members

Invited Guests

Ladies and Gentlemen

Good afternoon to you all.

I would like to say thank you to the Women’s Commissioner and her team for the opportunity to contribute to your existing knowledge on such an important topic; ‘Unlocking the Potential of the 21st Century Woman’. Traditionally I also have the responsibility of welcoming our guests officially to Data Link Institute. We say Akwaaba.

Distinguished guests, Ladies and Gentlemen, I must say that the theme for this seminar has been discussed at different levels and platforms globally and its importance cannot be over emphasised. The difficulty then, is to make it simple, more practical and relevant to the audience.

Distinguished guests, Ladies and Gentlemen, women have come a long way since the days of ‘a woman’s place is in the home’, by this I mean, keeping the home tidy, bearing and taking care of the children, taking care of their husband etc. Most often they are not even invited to meetings where decisions that directly affect them, are being made. Far too long we’ve seen girls and women essentially airbrushed out of the picture and invisible outside the home. Employment outside the home were menial and in some parts of the developing world this is still a reality. However today I can say without any stretch of doubt that we have come a long way, but the question is; have we come far enough, the answer is NO.

I recently attended an educational workshop in the capital and could count the number of women who were present compared to men. The observation awakened a concern that women still have a long way to go in order to unlock our full potentials.

As women, we need to break the chain of dependency and not subject our personal development efforts to approvals from partners or male members of the family. We should recognize our self-worth and be seen to be at the frontline. We need to develop our abilities to excel over and above our ambitions which are key to exposing us to greater chances and consequently helping us unlock our full potentials.

Distinguished guests, Ladies and Gentlemen, it is unfortunate to remark that many of our young girls today depend on self-made older men – (sugar daddy), most of whom are married with children, for their basic needs, and in several cases for the payment of their school fees. I am sorry to say that this does not help you to unlock your potential in addition, it comes at a price. Yes, you may obtain a degree but what happens afterwards, ending the relationship may be difficult because you have become dependent on someone for your basic needs. So many of these women find themselves in these stagnant relationships where they are unable to find completeness and growth.

Those who offer their bodies or cash to obtain grades are no different. These actions lock your potentials.

The 21st century is an age for participation, assertiveness and critical thinking. We have no excuse whatsoever to be overtaken by the wind of changes in this society. Every woman must be a valuable contributor to impacting positively on the lives in their immediate space and at the level of nation building.

Distinguished guests, Ladies and Gentlemen, women in business or entrepreneurs face a plethora of challenges some of which include access to capital, reaching markets and establishing business network that could enhance their business. So the issue is not our capabilities, but the reality and unfriendly conditions that are tied to getting solutions to the above listed challenges. There is a sense of discrimination at all levels which affects women’s participation in the economic activities to enhance our efficiency and productivity. This consequently has dramatic impact on the competitiveness and growth of the global economy since women are the managers of families which is the nucleus of the global set up. 

The World Bank has reported that half of women’s productive potential globally is completely underutilised as compared to their male counterparts. A 2007 U.N. report also noted that the Asia-Pacific region is “losing $42 billion to $47 billion per year because of restrictions on women’s access to employment opportunities and another $16 billion to $30 billion per year because of gender gaps in education.  Distinguished guests, Ladies and Gentlemen, a further analysis of these statistics brings the importance of women participation in the economy to the fore.

According to Hilary Clinton, in a speech she made at the APEC summit in September 2011, on ‘women and the economy,’ “There is a stimulative and ripple effect that kicks in when women have greater access to jobs and the economic lives of our countries: Greater political stability. Fewer military conflicts, more food, more educational opportunities for children, and by harnessing the economic potential of all women, we boost opportunity for all people.”

When women’s participation increases and their efficiency is enhanced, it has a dramatic impact on their economy, producing competition and growth of the global economies.

Women need to lobby at governmental levels for inclusion to ensure that our concerns are being addressed when policies are formulated. As young people, quality time should be devoted to support women leaders in all sectors and learn from their experiences, tracing the steps they took to arrive at the position they are in today. Their perspectives add value and these ensure that policies and programmes are developed as well as concerns from women duly noted, considered and adapted.

Distinguished guests, Ladies and Gentlemen, there is a rising tide of women who are relentlessly pursuing heights that have never been achieved by women, they are challenging laws and customs that acts as roadblocks to women achieving their full potential. We are challenging the status quo. Women have been awakened to the realities that unlock their potentials, realigned their thinking, have begun to focus on being accepted with the same potentials as the male counterparts and are prepared to take stands that will not allow them to be side-lined. (Hilary Clinton)

In the 21st century, the notion of ‘this is a man’s’ world, must be curbed in order for women to really achieve full parity in the workforce for equal and fair competition.

Distinguished guests, Ladies and Gentlemen, as women we need to get our priorities right, opportunities abound but the question is, what is your focus? Are you focusing on just obtaining a certificate and waiting for someone to employ you? Remember jobs are in short supply, so we need to look for opportunities to be self-employed and in turn employ others. Are you obtaining education just to prove you have the ability or is it a stepping stone to ascend to greater heights?

We live in a period where issues in one economy affect other economies, therefore in unlocking your full potential; you need to be abreast with current issues, both at the national and international levels. The fight for women’s equality is a global issue and overcoming one hurdle by any group of women is a victory for women all over the world. Try to adopt some changes of what is happening in other societies and be big and bold in your thinking, lobbying leadership where necessary to be transformational in their policies so that you will find many opportunities that will benefit women in our society.

Ladies and Gentlemen, as information transcends borders and creates opportunities, it is inexcusable for Ghana to continue to perpetuate the barriers facing women in the workforce. By increasing women’s participation in the economy and enhancing their efficiency and productivity, a dramatic impact on the competitiveness and growth of our economy would be realised. When everyone has a chance to participate in the economic life of a nation, we can all be richer, and women are poised to be seen as contributors and valued members of the global marketplace.

Women also tend to be overrepresented in less secure jobs—such as informal, temporary, or part-time work where there is little or no chance for promotion. This is partly because they want more flexible work options, and partly because they are locked out of higher-status careers. Structural and social impediments that stack the deck against women must be removed.

Globally, women also tend to be locked out of leadership positions, where gender seems to matter more than ability.

The increasing numbers of women in the economy and the rising productivity gains from improving the distribution of their talents and skills has helped fuel significant growth everywhere. And economies that are making the shift more effectively and rapidly are dramatically outperforming those that have not.

The Economist newspapers points out that the increase in employment of women in developed countries during the past decade has added more to global growth than China has.

More than half a million enterprises in Indonesia and nearly 400,000 in Korea are headed by women. They run fully 20 percent of all of China’s small businesses. What about Ghana? Do our women have entrepreneurial skills? We need to understand that we don’t need to sit behind a desk in an air-conditioned office in order to contribute to the growth of the economy. What is important is to have a vision and a plan, stay focused, avoid distractions and be determine to achieve above and beyond expectations.

We also know from the economic side that prejudice does not pay. Companies that are open to women do better than companies that are closed. For example, the Fortune 500 companies with the best records of promoting women have been shown to be 18 to 69 percent more profitable than those that are closed to women.

Finally, we must carefully examine our culture and social norms to understand why gender inequality is tolerated and perpetuated. National programmes to redress inequalities and, in particular, to eradicate gender-based violence, must draw on traditional structures and community leaders for they are the gatekeepers of norms and cultural practices. Let’s all work towards reconstructing the ideologies that fuel this scourge as we seek true social transformation.

Ladies and Gentlemen, the new measures for social progress must be looked at from the perspective of gender equality, the way in which society treats its people, how it respects the individuality and rights of every human being, how every person is given the same opportunity, the same justice and the same freedom. This is a struggle that must be waged by men and women all over the world.

Indeed, we have made some progress in women’s equality but there is much more to be done, so we must all unlock the hidden potentials within us.

Thank you very much once again and I wish you a successful summit.