The Planned Parenthood Association of Ghana (PPAG) has organised a livelihood empowerment training in Wa for 50 girls drawn from four communities in the Wa Municipality of the Upper West Region.
The training sought to empower the young ladies against early and unprotected sex, unwanted pregnancies and sexually-transmitted infections (STIs) by providing them with skills that would enable them to earn a living and become independent of men who usually lured them into having early sex for money.
The training, which is one of several others for the girls who have been organised into a club called the ‘Sistas Club’, forms part of a three-year project dubbed the ‘United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) – PPAG Child Marriage Project.
Targeted at reducing teenage pregnancy that leads to early marriages amongst girls, the project which started last year is working to educate young ladies in the Charia-Zingu, Sagoe, Kpongo, Gbegru and Dondoli communities on personal hygiene and family planning methods as well as the need to undertake minor trading activities for sustenance.
Speaking to the Ghanaian Times at the training here over the weekend, the Field Assistant for the PPAG in the region, Mr Joseph Aniah, explained that the project selected areas where teenage pregnancy was predominant and sought to engage girls within those areas to become responsible for their bodies and wellbeing.
“We realise that most of the girls are forced into marriage to men who impregnate them even if they have to truncate their education and they become victims of domestic abuse from these men who do not have any affection for them,” he said.
He explained that the project had an aspect that targeted parents, community leaders and other stakeholders and concentrated on redefining community norms and traditions that militated against the wellbeing of young ladies in the respective communities.
“We call it ‘breaking the silence’ where we get community members to analyse the trend of the teenage pregnancy menace, identify possible causes and outline ways by which we can nip it in the bud normally with the drafting of bye-laws,” he stated.
Mr Aniah added that the training was the 14th since the inception of the project and had enabled some of the girls to become entrepreneurs.
Facilitating the session on personal hygiene and sexual health, a nurse at the Dondoli Community-based Health Planning and Services (CHPS), Ms Faustina Beyuo, advised the girls to abstain from pre-marital sex and focus on their education and other career paths in life.
She stated that pregnancy was not an easy responsibility to be borne by girls, adding that girls who had found themselves in that situation had mostly been abandoned by the males responsible.
“Even when the male offers to help, the girl is the one who carries the pregnancy, suffers shame and scorn from people and gets her education shortened,” Ms Beyuo stated.
A 22-year-old Gloria Dongbamaala, in an interview, stated that after the first training by the PPAG last year, she started making liquid soap for sale and gradually added other products with the proceeds she ploughed from the sale of the liquid soap.
The girls were later screened for STIs and affected ones were given appropriate medication for the treatment of the infection.
FROM LYDIA DARLINGTON FORDJOUR, WA