Investing in women: Accelerating progress towards SDGs achievement in Ghana

By Jennifer Asuako, Gender Team Lead and Jemima Michael, Programme Analyst, UNDP Ghana on International Women Day

March 8, 2024

Panelists at our women in leadership dialogue

Photo @Abdul-Rahim Naa Abdul-Lahie/ UNDPGhana


Gender equality is a necessary foundation for sustainable development. Despite progress, women continue to confront discrimination and a scarcity of opportunities, impeding their full potential, particularly in leadership and decision-making roles. 


This year's International Women's Day theme, “Invest in Women: Accelerate Progress”, emphasizes the importance of supporting women for societal advancement. By empowering women economically, socially, and politically, we will not only enhance their well-being but also contribute to overall development.


According to the World Economic Forum’s 2023 report, gender equality is stalling, progress is very slow, and it would take 131 years to close the gender gap. The report indicates that, while women have entered the labour force at higher rates than men globally, leading to a small recovery (63%-64%) in gender parity in the labour-force participation rate since 2022, gaps in the labour market remain persistently wide. Women continue to face higher unemployment rates than men with a global unemployment rate at around 4.5% for women and 4.3% for men.


The situation is not different in Ghana. The gender gap index score in Ghana reached an overall score of 0.672 in 2022, indicating that females were 33 percent less likely to have the same opportunities as males in the country. On the fourth specific indicators measured by the World Economic Forum; In Political Empowerment, Ghana faces a wide gender gap, receiving a score of 0.135. This is a true reflection of the situation with women in current Parliament being only 14% and elected to District Assemblies less than 5%. Ghana scored 0.608 for Economic Participation and Opportunity, indicating that women still encounter barriers when it comes to accessing equal economic opportunities. On a positive note, Ghana performed better on the indicators of Educational Attainment, Health and Survival scoring 0.968 and 0.978 respectively, indicating significant progress. 


Equal Economic opportunities for both women and men


We need to prioritize investments that address the root causes of gender disparities and empower women and girls across various sectors in order to accelerate progress towards gender equality. We must invest in women’s economic empowerment to set a direct path towards gender equality, poverty eradication and inclusive economic growth. At UNDP, we continue to invest in MSMEs to grow their businesses. This is critical to achieving both the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and Planet 50/50 by 2030. Economic development efforts to combat poverty can only succeed if women are part of the solution. Doing so yields a double dividend: when women are economically empowered, they raise healthier, better-educated families. Their countries are also more economically prosperous. 

We must therefore do more to invest in women's economic empowerment through implementing more tailored initiatives such as providing access to finance, offering relevant skills training, providing access to technology and breaking gender barriers in traditionally male-dominated sectors. By doing this, Ghana can unlock the full potential of its female population, leading to increased productivity, innovation, and economic prosperity. 



Equal representation and participation of men and women in decision-making 


Women continue to be under-represented in the political spheres and decision-making processes globally, according to the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU), as of March 2022 only 26.1% of all national parliamentarians globally were women. This is below the SDG targets of 30% by 2030.  


In Ghana, currently women constitute only 14.5% of Parliament, though this is a slight progress from 2016 (13%) and 2012 (11%), the gap is huge compared to the fact that women constitute 50.7% of Ghana’s population.  The situation at the local assembly level is even worse, less than 5%. Some of the factors contributing to this gap include intimidation, lack of recognition of the abilities and value of women in decision making, increasing cost of doing politics in Ghana, making campaigns difficult for women, gender-based violence, illiteracy, and lack of political will by parties to support women. This is why UNDP continues to build capacity and advocate for women’s political leadership.


According to UNDP’s Africa Human Development report, promoting women’s political voice and leadership will help in driving gender equality and women’s empowerment. This will accelerate the achievement of all the sustainable development goals. 


Having both men and women involved in decision-making broadens the perspectives, increases creativity and innovation, diversifies the pool of talents and competences, reduces conflicts, and improves the process of decision-making. We need to implement strategies such as: 


  1. Legislative and Electoral reforms to implement affirmative action measures. 

  2. Provide training and create supportive environments free from discrimination.

  3. Funding campaigns of women candidates and implementing gender-sensitive policies within political parties. 

By investing in women's leadership and decision making, Ghana can ensure that women's voices are heard in policymaking, implementation, and governance processes, leading to a more inclusive, progressive, and democratic society.


On this International Women’s Day, let us all work to increase our investment in realizing women’s economic, social, and political rights. This will unlock their full potential as agents of change and drivers of progress for a more equitable and prosperous future for all. Together, we can create a future where all individuals, regardless of gender, have equal opportunities to thrive and contribute to development and prosperity for all.

On this International Women’s Day, let us all work to increase our investment in realizing women’s economic, social, and political rights. Together, we can create a future where all individuals, regardless of gender, have equal opportunities to thrive and contribute to development and prosperity for all.