The First Lady, Mrs Rebecca Akufo-Addo, has called on African first ladies to action and asked that they do their development work with urgency, purpose and in exemplary leadership.
She has also advised them to learn to be transparent, accountable, credible and reliable to attract more funding to implement their projects for the most vulnerable population on the continent, women and children.
Mrs Akufo-Addo was sharing her “experience on best practices” on Friday with her counterparts in Brazzaville, where the 26th Extraordinary General Assembly of the of African First Ladies for Development (OAFLAD) took place.
The two-day meeting attended by many of the African first ladies both in person and virtually was held on the theme: “Twenty years in the service of the most vulnerable of Africa.”
Mrs Akufo-Addo said in her five years of operating her Rebecca Foundation, she had observed nuggets that constitute best practices including having a strong team of intelligent, passionate, socially conscious people who share “our vision. It is also critical to develop a comprehensive strategy that has the most impact on our people.”
Also, getting and maintaining the support of partners and donors was crucial as they bring on board technical expertise, funding and networks that support the work they do as first ladies.
“Because we are a politically exposed office, we work with stakeholders and partners to ensure relevance, acceptability and adaptability of projects and interventions to avoid political bias.
“To ensure sustainability of projects, we involve stakeholders such as the Ministries of Education and Health and Local authorities, so we meet current needs which can be built upon and maintained in the future.”
Mrs Akufo-Addo said in the practices of her Foundation, she and her officials also ensure that their accounts were in order and audited by the reputable Delloite and Touche Company.
“This has made it possible to attract funding for our projects.”
She recounted the various initiatives undertaken by the Rebecca Foundation in the areas of education, health, and women’s economic empowerment.
Under education, there was the “Learning to read and reading to learn,” programme aimed at improving child literacy through a television reading programme.
There was also an ongoing library construction in school clusters, so children could have access to books and computers to enhance their learning.
“By the end of 2022 we would have constructed 20 libraries, each serving populations between 2000 and 3000,” she said.
There is also the “Because I want to be mentor Initiative, which encourages girls to stay in school and supports dropouts with skills training.
“By the second year of this initiative, we had reached about 30,000 girls. The programme now airs on television and online, which gives us the opportunity to reach more girls.”
The women’s economic empowerment initiative, also support women with seed capital and skills training to improve their economic status, while market crèches had been built to provide education and safety for children and peace of mind for their mothers.
The First Lady said the health sector had been her Foundation’s focus, where it worked with a team of medical personnel to conduct medical outreaches, to the poor and vulnerable in remote areas.
“We have renovated and equipped health centres nationwide. We have also built an ultra-modern mother and baby unit, at Ghana’s second tertiary hospital, the first ever Paediatric and Neonatal Intensive Care Unit and a Hostel for children with cancer and their families, at our premier tertiary hospital.”
She also mentioned that at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Foundation provided personal protective equipment (PPEs) to many frontline health workers as well as hospital beds to support increased admissions due to COVID.
Additionally, food packages, sanitary items and PPE were to the vulnerable, especially women and children.