Mrs Samira Bawumia, the Wife of the Vice President, has reiterated her call for the leveraging of efforts towards the elimination of Sexual and Gender-based Violence (SGBV) and Harmful Practices.
She said this would ensure the prudent use of resources and help in achieving concrete results.
Mrs Bawumia made the call at the maiden meeting of the Advisory Body of the Coalition of People Against SGBV and Harmful Practices (CoPASH/HP) in Accra on Thursday.
Mrs Bawumia, who is also the Convener of CoPASH, stressed the importance of building collective efforts and synergies to fight SGBV, saying it was unacceptable for Ghana to be counted among the leading countries with the prevalence of such abuses.
She gave some global statistics, which showed that 35 per cent, about one in every three women worldwide, had experienced SGBV and harmful practice. Data from the Domestic Violence and Victim Support Unit (DOVVSU) of the Ghana Police Service indicates that over 177,849 cases of SGBV, including rape, defilement, incest and child marriages, were reported to the Unit between 2000 and 2013.
Again the Ghana Demographic and Health Survey of 2014 also showed that one in every five girls were married before their 16th birthdays, and Ghana has been classified among 29 countries in Africa and the Middle East where Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) was still prevalent despite the numerous efforts being made to halt the crime.
Mrs Bawumia stated that although there had been ongoing efforts to stop SGBV, the uncoordinated manner of such activities and programmes had led to stagnated results, adding that the only way to achieve quality outcomes was through the formation of a solid and united front, which was being offered by the CoPASH platform.
She pledged her commitment towards leading in the fight of stopping SGBV and mobilizing the needed resources to ensure justice for victims. She urged the youth and Civil Society Organisations to lend their support towards advocacy and public education on rights and responsibilities regarding these issues.
Mr Niyi Ojuolape, the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) Country Representative, introduced the CoPASH Advisory Board members and commended the members of the Coalition for their commitment towards achieving the vision and mission of the Coalition after its launch.
He gave a brief background of the Coalition, explaining that CoPASH was launched with support from the UNFPA to spearhead a national response on the issues of SGBV and Harmful Practices, including case management and increasing preventive efforts in Ghana.
Its mandate, he said, was to bring together a group of agencies, organisations and individuals who were passionate about the rights of women and girls and advocate for better resources.
The CoPASH is also mandated to ensure high-level of advocacy and visibility to interventions aimed at preventing and managing gender issues in Ghana such as child marriage, FGM, SGBV and Violence against Women and Girls.
Mr Ojuolape mentioned some of the proposed activities of CoPASH, which include supporting the DOVVSU to complete its One-Stop-Shop agenda to facilitate the provision of coordinated response to SGBV and strengthening and expanding data management system at the Unit among other things.
He said CoPASH members were also expected to serve as liaisons between the communities and the Coalition, assist in the implementation of activities including the provision of support through engaging networks and share their expertise.
Mr Emmanuel Andrews Samini, a Rapper and Dancehall Artiste, graced the occasion and pledged his support towards the elimination of all forms of SGBV and Harmful Practices.He called on families of victims to support them and report all abuses to the appropriate authorities.