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West African Female Politicians Learn Leadership Skills

Women ministers and members of parliament from Anglophone West Africa countries are meeting in Accra to sharpen their leadership and advocacy skills.

The Accra meeting, being organized by the Network of African Women Ministers and Parliamentarians is also being used to press for the inclusion of more women in decision-making positions in the region.

A member of Ghana's parliament, Akua Dansua says several factors have prevented African women from fully participating in the political process.

"Is the socialization, the culture and you know how expensive politics is, we lack the resources, politics in Africa now is big business and women generally don't have the kind of resource that men have, so its very difficult for us women and we need to begin to tackle these problems seriously," she said.

Dansua called for the establishment of a fund to support more women trying to take up leadership positions on the continent.

Patricia Macauley, national coordinator of the network in Sierra Leone says it is important for every country to efficiently use all of its human resources.

"You definitely need men and women to bring development. You cannot just have just men running things," she noted. "You need to have the women because women look at various issues. They look at the reproductive health and rights of the people, they look at how we have maternal mortality monitoring, babies are alive, mothers are alive, if you notice women are more concerned with all of these."

Liberian Minister of Gender and Development, Jabah Gayflor, told VOA her country's economy has improved tremendously since the election of Africa's first female president in that country.

She stressed the importance of appointing qualified women to decision-making positions.

"When we talk about gender equality, we say look around whether you can also find capable women; if they are there, give them the opportunity to serve in [that] capacity," she said. "Because we [are] talking about giving the necessary support and having the skills to do those things that need to be done. We need to have people who have the capacity to do so, so I think if they are really qualified and they are educated and are given the opportunity to serve, you find another face added to the process where you have a human face."

About 28 participants from Ghana, The Gambia, Liberia, Nigeria and Sierra Leone are attending the five-day training workshop, being sponsored by the U.N. Fund for Population Activities.