Ghana urged to act with urgency and commitment to end child marriage

child marriage

By Razak Baba

The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), has called on Ghana to act with urgency and commitment to end child marriage.

According to the UNFPA, by investing in quality education, ensuring decent work for women, and dismantling harmful gender norms and stereotypes, Ghana can give girls the future they deserve. The call was made at this year’s commemoration of the International Day of the Girl Child with queen mothers at Ayeduase in the Oforikrom Municipality of the Ashanti Region.

The International Day of the Girl is a global event observed in October each year to raise awareness of the obstacles that girls face and to also celebrate and reinforce their achievements, as was done through a sensitisation durbar at Ayeduase, a community in the Oforikrom Municipality of the Ashanti Region. It was also used to sensitise the community on the prevention of pregnancy among schoolgirls and the facilitation of re-entry into school for young mothers.

The durbar was organised by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), and the Obaapa Development Foundation under the auspices of the Queenmother of Ayeduase, Nana Yaa Saah.

The event, themed: “Our Time is Now-Our Rights, Our Future: The Role of the Traditional Leaders in Youth Development for Nation Building” brought together selected queen mothers, students from second cycle and basic schools, and parents.

The event was premised on the alarming rate of teenage pregnancies recorded in the country two years ago, with Ashanti Region recording huge numbers of girls between the ages of 10 and 15, said to be the most affected group.

Adolescent pregnancy is a major concern for the government and development partners in Ghana. Data from the Ghana Statistical Services also revealed that 80,000 girls in Ghana aged between 12 and 17 years are already married or living with a man.

In 2021, the UNFPA-UNICEF Global Programme to End Child Marriage and its partners provided almost two-point-six million adolescent girls with life skills and comprehensive sexuality education, which empowers them to make choices about their bodies and futures. Nearly 16 million people were also engaged in dialogues on child marriage, the rights of adolescent girls and the importance of gender equality.

The Ashanti Regional Director for Gender, Madam Farida Ahmed, announced that the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection has worked in partnership with other stakeholders to develop policies and implement several programmes towards the empowerment of girls. She called for support for the leadership of adolescent girls at the forefront of change efforts.

The Executive Director of Obaapa Foundation, Nanahemaa Adwoa Awindor, urged policymakers to enact stringent policies to protect children from wanton abuse of their rights.

Head of the Gender Unit at the United Nations Population Fund, Dr. Doris Mawuse Aglobitse called for concerted efforts by stakeholders to decisively deal with child marriage in Ghana.

The Queenmother of Ayeduase, Nana Yaa Saah, said to accelerate progress on gender equality as a country, a collective effort from stakeholders is required.

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