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Market queens operating within various markets across the country have been urged to utilize their influence in leadership to support the mission to eliminate HIV/AIDS particularly Mother-to-child transmission of HIV in Ghana by the end of this year.

The UNAIDS Country Director for Ghana, Angela Trenton-Mbonde who made the call at a workshop to mark this year’s International Women’s Day in Accra reiterated the indisputable role of market queens play including the power they wield to bring about change in the society and the world at large.

She said: “Market queens can encourage pregnant women in markets and communities to know their status and to seek treatment and cure if they are found to be HIV positive”.

“They can harbour support and solidarity for pregnant and healthy mothers living with HIV which will ensure that they overcome perceived stigma and other challenges and stay on anti-retroviral drugs so that mothers can have their babies, stay alive and healthy”, she posited.

While encouraging the market queens, other women and men to regularly reflect on the specific actions they’re taking to help achieve the SDGs, Mrs Angela Trenton-Mbonde passionately appealed to all and sundry to feel free and reach out to the National AIDS Control Program, the Ghana AIDS Commission and the UNAIDS with ideas and proposed actions for effective implementation.

The UNAIDS Country Director further disclosed her outfit is collaborating with the Ghana AIDS Commission and the First Lady of Ghana to eliminate Mother-to-child transmission of HIV by the end of 2020 hence the need for the call for help.

The 1-day event dubbed: “AFAWI’s International Women’s Day Conference was on the theme: “Market queens – a success story of grassroots’ governance”. It brought together the crème de la crème of the society, representatives and leaders of various women groups, non-governmental organizations, queen mothers as well as market queens and other dignified women in Africa and the diaspora including some men.

According to Philip Kwesi Agyei, the Managing Director of Alliance for African Women Initiative (AFAWI), the rationale for the event which coincided with the commemoration of the 2020 International Women’s Day (IWD) was aimed at engaging the market queens to listen to their success stories and challenges and to see how to help address them as an organization.

When asked what actually necessitated his outfit to hold such an awesome event in honour of the market queens especially on a memorable day like the IWD, he said: “I think the market queens play a very important role in the development of our nation. As it was reiterated at the meeting, most of these women are used as a means of collecting taxes even at the local level therefore without them it is difficult to collect taxes from women who are operating within the market setting and we believe that they have a lot of influence to be able to pass on certain information, wisdom and knowledge to their fellow women within the community and to help develop the women agenda, that is why we target them to get their success stories, challenges and to see how best we can work with them as an organization to influence the positive change we need in our communities.

At the workshop, the market queens took turns to share their success stories alike their challenges and subsequently pleaded to the authorities to take urgent action to help resolve them in order to enable them continue to deliver on their mandates as demanded.

Some amazing speakers whose speeches excite participants at the event include Dr Felicia S. Odame, Board Chair, AFAWI and Senior Lecturer at UDS, Joy Ogeh-Hutfield, inspiration speaker, UK, Prof. Dr Angelika Poferi, Professor of University of Dortmund, Harriet Anita Abaidoo, National Women Commissioner of United Nations Association Ghana and Mrs. Miriam Dzifa Damalie, President of ACAT Ghana.

The International Women’s Day (March 8,) is a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. The day also marks a call to action for accelerating women’s equality.

©Joseph Kobla Wemakor

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