A five-year project aimed at eradicating child marriage in some parts of the country has been launched in Koforidua in the Eastern Region.
Termed ‘Her Choice Project,’ the project is being implemented in 14 centres in the Eastern and Central regions under the auspices of the Hunger Project - Ghana. It is being funded by the Dutch Government.
Giving highlights of the project at a workshop in Koforidua, the Coordinator, Ms Patricia Osei Amponsah, said the project would invest in the knowledge, skills and participation abilities of people in the beneficiary communities, adding that more women would be trained in alternative livelihood income sources such as gari and oil palm processing, as well as bead making, to better their lives.
Education in communities
She said education on Sexual Reproduction Health Rights (SRHR) as well as the organisation of radio programmes on gender roles, the negative effects of child marriage and sexual reproductive rights would be carried out in the communities.
Ms Amponsah explained that community leaders would also be sensitised to respect laws on child marriage and child rights.
She said there was the need to empower girls, reform our social, cultural and religious norms, strengthen the country's policy actions on child marriage and revise the laws to help deal with the issue of child marriage.
A Technical Advisor on Gender at the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection, Ms Dinah Adiko, said cases of child marriage remained high in the country despite a fairly comprehensive and supporting legal framework.
2014 DHS report
She referred to the 2014 Demographic and Health Survey (DHS Ghana) report that indicated that an average of 27.2 per cent of women between 20 and 49 years enter marital unions before the age of 18, while girls in rural areas were twice more likely to become child brides than those in urban areas.
Ms Adiko said child marriage was a complex issue that required coordination and intervention at different levels and across all sectors by stakeholders to curb.
She indicated that the ministry, with support from UNICEF, had established a Child Marriage Unit which had since led efforts to promote and coordinate a national campaign aimed at ending child marriage in Ghana.
She called for an increase in public response to issues related to child marriage through communication for behavioural change by using traditional and social media.
The Country Director of the Hunger Project Ghana, Mr Samuel Erasmus Afrane, said the ultimate decision about the development of girls in the adolescent ages must be made by the girls themselves.
Mr Afrane also stated, “Her Choice Project would seek to address negative peer pressure influence, as well as direct or indirect parental effects and influences.”
He said it would also look at issues such as bad religious and cultural influences, adult bullying and coercive tendencies to help girls to develop their full potential