Persistent increase in teenage pregnancy in the Nabdam District of the Upper East Region is a major threat to girl-child education and women empowerment in the area.
Stakeholders, who made the observation at a community forum at Kongo, said teenage pregnancy was compelling girls in the area to drop out of school while others were going into forced marriages.
They, therefore, advocated a collective approach from parents and state authorities as well as organizations to help curb the problem and create a better future for improved girls’ education and women empowerment.
The forum was organized by TEERE, a local Non-Governmental Organization, as part of its Local Government Forum. The forum is part of the “Women’s Voice and Leadership’ project being supported by Plan International Ghana with funding from Global Affairs Canada.
It was held on the theme: “Women in decision-making in the community: why it matters!!” and brought together representatives from the Nabdam District Assembly, the Department of Gender, traditional authorities, parents and women, among others.
Pognaab Elizabeth Atubiga, the Queenmother of Kongo Community, said recent records showed that teenage pregnancy was on the increase in the area and attributed the inability of parents to meet the needs of their daughters, compelling the girls to engage in transactional sex, leading to pregnancy.
She noted that apart from parents disciplining their children appropriately, they also needed to create an enabling environment for the children to easily confide in them, especially regarding their sexual and reproductive health issues.
Mr William Anamoo, the Gender Desk Officer, Nabdam District Assembly, said the increase in teenage pregnancy in the district was a big threat to women empowerment and the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals, especially goals four and six which emphasise quality education and gender equality respectively
He, therefore, called for a multisector approach to ending the canker to empower girls and women to achieve parity.
Mr Maxwell Babilo Banu, the Deputy Chief Executive Officer, TEERE, explained that over the years, there was an inadequate representation of women in the decision making process at household, community and national levels because their educational and confidence levels were low.
Mr Banu, who is also the Monitoring and Evaluation Manager of the NGO, said the main objective of the TEERE Local Government Forum was to provide a common platform for citizens and practitioners in local governance in all districts in Ghana to actively participate in the decentralization process.
He said TEERE was providing women in five communities, namely Pelungu, Kongo, Logre, Yakote and Zanlerigu economic empowerment through piggery, guinea fowls and livestock rearing, with support from Plan International Ghana.
It was also embarking on gender awareness campaigns to empower women to participate in decision-making processes, he added.
The Deputy CEO explained that when women were empowered economically to fend for themselves and their children and with adequate knowledge, it would enable them to contribute to bridging the gender discrimination among girls and boys.