The Country Representative of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), Dr. Wilfred Ochan, has called on Ghanaians and investors to patronize SMEs in the clothing industry to bolster their growth.
Mr. Ochan, in his address at a closing ceremony of the one-year Fashion Expressions Project in Ghana, explained that the training on fashion design and business management also exposed the beneficiaries to “issues of gender-based violence, reproductive health, and rights.”
Therefore, the ceremony held at the Atrium of the Accra World Trade Centre “brought a vast group of stakeholders to draw attention to these new entrants in the fashion industry. Our intention is to increase local patronage of clothes designed and made by Ghanaians,” he said.
Trade data from 2020 shows that Ghana has become the biggest dumping ground of used clothing in the last decade, which has had a significant impact on the environment.
Mr. Ochan further advised, “institutions that wear uniforms to contact small and medium businesses like these people to help grow their businesses.”
The project, implemented by International Needs Ghana in partnership with UNFPA, the United Nations Sexual and Reproductive Health Agency, and the PRADA Group, has trained 18 young women from various regions.
Applauding the partnership, he remarked that it is “to leverage our shared passion for fashion, and for promoting gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls” and that it should “serve to inspire us that when we invest in empowering the most vulnerable, we don’t just change their individual lives, we transform communities and the world.”
The Executive Director of International Needs Ghana, Cromwell Awadey, shared his assessment of the project, stating that the beneficiaries are “empowered in all forms of education, including reproductive health and rights. Today, these young women who couldn’t do anything before—in fact, at the beginning when we did the baseline, they couldn’t draw, sketch, or sew—have sewn garments that have been modeled.”
He further recounted the progress of the young women, saying that they had “spent the first six months acquiring theoretical knowledge in fashion and some minor elements of practicals” with the second part of the training being an industrial attachment with eight local fashion houses in Accra and Tema.
“The Fashion Show climaxed their industrial attachment,” he added.
A project beneficiary, Pamela Afatsawo, shared her optimism, saying, “I am very excited because it has given me the chance to be the fashion designer I had wanted to become. Because I have learnt fashion in one year. My advice to my fellow young women out there is don’t be too comfortable, push hard, and get what you want to do.”