A Regional level conference of Religious Leaders (RL) and Faith-Based Organization (FBO) has been held in Bolgatanga in the Upper East Region.
It was organized by the Regional Coordinating Council (RCC), in collaboration of with the United Nations Populations Fund (UNPFA) and United Nations International Children’s Fund UNICEF and sponsored by the Canadian Government, a Joint Programme for Adolescent Girls.
The project seeks to address sexual and reproductive health and gender issue that affects girls especially teenagers It was under the theme “Power of choice comprehensive education and demographic transition”.
The aim of the conference was to provide religious leaders and FBOs the required information and skills to understand, advocate and support the dialogue on comprehensive sexuality education (CSE), reproductive health rights, family planning and prevention of harmful practices including child marriage.
Six selected District in the Upper East Region are taking part in the regional level conference.
Participants were drawn from all the faith-based organizations, the Ghana Health Service GHS, Department of Gender, National Youth Authority, the Ghana Police Service and the Domestic Violence and Victims Support Unit, (DOVVSU), as sub-implementers who will work with Civil Society Organization to implement the planned activities.
In his opening address, the Regional Coordinating Director Alhaji Mohammadu Azonko indicated that, Adolescent and Sexual Reproductive Health was a very crucial issue in the current era particularly as it focuses on girls in the region where most of them are falling victims every day.
He stated that as stakeholders in the development of the youth and as duty bearers in the various communities, it mandatory to ensure that young people especially adolescent girls a stay in school and progress through the various levels of their education without dropping out of school due to teenage pregnancy, child marriage or sexual and gender-based violence.
Alhaji Azonko lamented that the Upper East Region’s teenage pregnancy rate of 17 percent as against the national average of 11 percent is worrying and needs a concerted efforts to reduce it.
A representative of a UNPFA, Tamale Decentralized Office Mr. Mammah Tenii indicated that, Religion plays a significant role in promoting the understanding of sexuality as affirming expressions of equality, mutual respect and love.
Many adolescents and teenagers look to their religious communities as an important social resource.
Many young people participate in religious services and programme that provide opportunity for their growth.
Reverent father Dennis Tong, representative of the Christian Council of Ghana quoting John 10: 10 said the church has a mandate to be concern not only the spiritual needs of the people but the social aspect as well and therefore anything that impedes the life of a person must be dealt with and that is where the church comes in.
Story filed by: Emmanuel Akayeti