Mrs Clarrisa Kudowor, Deputy Director of the Bank of Ghana (BoG), has called on stakeholders within the business sector to join forces with the central bank to help mitigate the impact of COVID-19 on women-owned businesses.
According to her, the Bank of Ghana believes in an inclusive and resilient financial system and economy because “it works for all of us as a nation, and as stakeholders, we should make growth a shared agenda”.
“We need to share to help develop a more sustainable financial economy by encouraging women to bring their capacities to bear.”Clarrisa Kudowor
Mrs Kudowor made this call at a National Policy Dialogue organized by the Network for Women’s Rights in Ghana (NETRIGHT) in partnership with GracaMachel Trust in Accra.
The event was on the theme, ‘Women’s Leadership for financial inclusion and economic recovery’.
The dialogue assessed the challenges women face in the Micro, Small, Medium Enterprise (MSMEs) sector, which include difficulty in accessing loans and permits to set up businesses.
Another challenge outlined was that the COVID-19 pandemic slowed down progress and reinforced pre-existing gender inequalities.
The BoG Deputy Director also highlighted that the pandemic has also compounded structural and systemic barriers that made it difficult for women to easily access economic resources.
This is because a higher percentage of women are in the informal sector and MSMEs as compared to men, she said, adding that many women businesses had still not “resurrected” from the effect of COVID-19.
Mrs Kudowor observed that the Government’s COVID-19 Alleviation and Revitalization of Enterprises programme introduced to support MSMEs affected by the COVID-19, benefitted more men than women, as it was not gender specific and created gaps in accessing loans.
She therefore, advised women in business to leverage opportunities in the digital economy to grow their businesses.
COVID-19 hits women businesses harder
Mrs Patricia Blankson Akakpo, the Programmes Manager at NETRIGHT, said that the economic hardship hit by the pandemic were those where women were mostly found.
She disclosed that Africa’s Agenda 2063 and the Sustainable Development Goals (Agenda 2030) prioritized gender equality and built inclusive economics.
However, for the continent to realize these goals, she noted, women needed to be among the decision-makers and collective action from local to national, regional to global level.
Ms Cyntia Sunu, Project Coordinator at NETRIGHT, also said the three-year project initiated by her outfit is expected to support women’s leadership for digital financial inclusion in the various economic recovery strategies in Africa.
It aimed at targeting country-specific gender transformative financial inclusion and economic recovery framework to be adopted by governments and multi-sectoral stakeholders in targeted African countries.
She said the initiative would facilitate a greater representation of women in the COVID-19 economic recovery response task forces, increase political support, strengthen women in financial inclusion leadership and improve the institutional capacity of GMT women’s networks in implementation countries.
According to Ms Sunu, the project would also help build and institutionalize a collective of African women leaders as expert women leaders and leading women’s networks to influence policy actions that promote inclusive economic recovery in Africa through women’s financial inclusion.