Citizen Today: women in leadership

Going places in Ghana

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Ghana’s growth story and potential means it is fast becoming a country to watch. But how is it approaching the subject of diversity? The country’s Chief Economics Officer, Magdalene Apenteng, gives some answers.

Ghana is a shining example of how an encouraging economic environment has catalyzed rapid growth that is set to become sustainable and inclusive in the future.

But the country is not without its share of challenges. The government is focusing on issues such as:

  • Strengthening the domestic capital market
  • Containing inflation
  • Making the tax system more efficient

Playing a key role in this process is Magdalene Apenteng, the country’s Chief Economics Officer and Director of the Public Investment Division of the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning.

As one of the Government’s few women in senior ranks, she is well placed to comment on the issue of diversity, describing it as key to informed decision-making and constructive participation at all levels.

When asked to describe the visible barriers she has encountered during the course of her illustrious career, she pinpoints several key challenges.

  • A key reason is the ineffective implementation of policies aiming to help women progress.
  • Invisible barriers such as conscious and unconscious bias are even more difficult to address in a country like Ghana.
  • The main reason behind a relatively low number of women in leadership positions in the public sector is that men use their dominant positions in the governance structure to give themselves the relevant strategic positions.

An important step in addressing such systemic barriers often lies with women themselves, says Apenteng, who believes they need to be more assertive in the workplace. 

The country’s recently-established Ministry of Gender and Social Protection seeks to promote the welfare of women and children.

Networking is also important and Apenteng believes that governments have much to learn from each other.

“The initial steps could involve the use of a global network, possibly chaired by EY, with the view to soliciting concrete views and suggestions on moving this global process forward,” she says.

“The most important role of government is to have the willpower to continue ensuring that these problems are addressed and make concerted efforts to promote actions that promote women empowerment at all times. Once critical areas for improvement have been identified, the government may have to promote legislation to ensure that some of its policies for women empowerment are actually accepted and implemented by a broader section of the people,” she concludes.