By: Antoinette Abbah
With less than a decade to meet the Sustainable Development Goal 5 of Gender Equality by 2030, the United Nations Population Fund, UNFPA, says it is working hard to end child marriage in Ghana.
One out of every 5 girls is reported to be married before age 18, and this truncates their basic and secondary education, or skills or vocational training.
At a forum in Accra, eighty Adolescents who are part of a Learning Forum, shared experiences on how to achieve zero child marriage.
Programme Assistant for Gender at the UNFPA, Abigail Hunu, said when systems are strengthened, they help adolescents to make informed decisions.
”The National Gender policy and the plan of action to operationalize the domestic violence ACT among other laws are being reviewed by the mother agency which is the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection. Again under the laws and policies, are being tightened which will make sure that the strategies that we are using still holds water and looking at the indicators as it stands right now, so it becomes easier for us to measure our results at the end of 2024” she said.
Madam Hunu said a multi-country evaluation of communities engagement to end child marriage is also ongoing.
”So far now ongoing is the study of co-habitation adolescent pregnancy and child marriage. As I mentioned earlier, the dynamics in relation to issues of child marriage is different compared to other countries. So we want to ensure or see whether or not our assumptions are actually right after we have undergone this study is actually happening in the Central Region. Because we realized that, for some strange reason, issues of child marriage and adolescent pregnancies are very high along the coastal areas. So we want to find out what is causing that, so when we get to know then it helps us to come out with interventions that will help address issues of co-habitation” she added.
UNFPA Country Representative, Barnabas Yisa, said the UNFPA and UNICEF will continue to build the capacities of adolescents to take informative decisions about their lives.
He encouraged adolescents to leverage on the vast experience of experts.
”For this year’s gathering, our focus is on adolescent boys, just as much as it is on adolescent girls. Considering the critical role men and boys play in combating sexual and gender base violence. We hope that at the end of the forum the capacity of some of you selected who are here today will be increased to make informed decisions about your life, and also for you to develop innovative strategies to end child marriage as well as teenage pregnancy” he said.
The two-day forum was part of the agenda of the UNFPA and UNICEF to end child marriage in Ghana.
The forum since its inception has created a safe space for adolescent girls from the child marriage programme communities across the country to reflect on their journey, share their practical experiences, propose solutions towards zero child marriage and end teenage pregnancy in Ghana as well as have intergenerational discussions on issues affecting adolescents in Ghana with parliamentary committee on population.