Madam Otiko Afisa Djaba, the Minister of Gender, Children and Social Protection on Tuesday held discussions with the Steering Committee of the Global Programme to Accelerate Action to End Child Marriage.
The Accra meeting was to explore practical action to end child marriage in Ghana.
The global representative delegation was led by the Co-Chairmen of the Global Action Plan to End Child Marriage: Mr Ted Chaiban, the Director of programmes at United Nations International Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and Mr Benoit Kalasa, Director Technical Division, United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA).
Other members of the delegation included Christine Kolbe, Policy Advisor on Child Marriage and Female Genital mutilation (FGM), DFID; Kathleen Flynn Dapaah, Deputy Director, Child Protection, Global Affairs Canada.
The rest are Mike Vogels, Senior Policy Advisor, Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs; Maria Luisa Troncoso, Head of Operations, Governance and Society, European Union (EU) Delegation to Ghana; and Mr Mawtor Ablo, Director of Planning Policy Monitoring and Evaluation, Ministry for Gender, Children and Social Protection.
The meeting was the first time the group of UNFPA-UNICEF representatives from Canada, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom and the EU was meeting in one of the 12 countries in which the Global Programme Accelerate Action to End Child Marriage.
Madam Djaba speaking to the press after the closed door meeting, said child marriage was a global canker that must be stopped. She noted that child marriage threatened the life and health of the girl child and also stunted their educational opportunities.
She said women constituted 52 per cent of Ghana’s population, and therefore, child marriage was a threat to the nation’s socio-economic development. Madam Djaba said with Ghana attaining 60 years after independence, all efforts must be made to ensure that the girl child was not left behind in anything.
The Gender Minister called for an end to child marriage and FGM in the country.
She appealed to parents to take the education of their children, especially the girl child very seriously. Mr Chaiban commended Ghana for the tremendous success it had made in reducing child marriage; adding that “Ghana is on the path to ending child marriage”.He said globally, 700 million women alive today were married before their 18th birthday; hence the need to intensify efforts to address the situation.
Mr Kalasa said there was the need for strong efforts at all level of society to end child marriage globally. He said child marriage threatened the life of the girl child and was a violation of their rights. Ms Abigail Dogbey, a form three student of the Kpobikorpe M/A Basic School, said sometimes her peers out of ignorance ended up indulging in child marriage.
She therefore, called on stakeholders to help educate the girl child on the dangers of child marriage. Ms Janet Doku-Kwarteng, a former student of Kumasi Senior High Technical School, also appealed to the Gender Ministry to intensify the campaign to end child marriage in the country through reaching out to more parents.
The UNFPA-UNICEF Global Programme to Accelerate Action to End Child Marriage offers a framework promoting the right of girls to delay marriage, addressing the conditions that keep the practice in place, and caring for girls already in union.
The programme focuses on enabling girls at risk of child marriage to choose and direct their own futures, supporting households in demonstrating positive attitudes towards adolescent girls, and strengthening the systems that deliver services to adolescent girls. It also seeks to ensure laws and policies, protect and promote adolescent girls' rights, and highlight the importance of using robust data to inform policies relating to adolescent girls.
The programme targets adolescent girls (ages 10-19) at risk of child marriage or already in union, in 12 selected countries: Ghana, Bangladesh, Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, India, Mozambique, Nepal, Niger, Sierra Leone, Uganda, Yemen, and Zambia.