Teenage pregnancy and child marriage— effects on sustainable national development
Teenage pregnancy and child marriage— effects on sustainable national development

Teenage pregnancy and child marriage— effects on sustainable national development

Being the first born of six siblings, I have experienced the popular refrain of “Leave it for the little ones to enjoy.” And I kept asking myself: “couldn’t I also enjoy?” Then the truth dawned on me— I cannot enjoy alongside my little siblings because my parents are not affluent and cannot provide for us all adequately.

Can I complain, then, when my mother was pushed into child marriage and got pregnant as a teenager?

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In 1960, the total population of Ghana was about 6.7 million but has multiplied 4 times over to 29 million in2017. In that same year, 1960, Spain’s population size was about 30.5 and in 2017, Spain’s population was estimated to be around 46.4 million. A comparison between Spain and Ghana clearly show thatGhana has registered a high population growth rate —and the question is: what is it that has triggered the high growth?

The fingers point to the canker of child marriage and teenage pregnancy which has, over the years, been a challenge which various governments try unsuccessfully to overcome.

In Today’s Ghana, it is usual to find young girls between the ages of 12-18 pregnant and loitering about the streets. While some struggle to make themselves productive by selling water, toffees, handkerchiefs, bread, dusters and others in dangerous traffic situations, the rest hide in their rooms out of shame and fear of public ridicule.

Ghana is known to be one of the many African countries with a low level of literacy, high rate of poverty both at regional and national levels as well as a high rate of unemployment, child marriage, and teenage pregnancy.

Teenage pregnancy and child marriage are cankers that contribute to large family sizes, increase consumption and eat deep into the country’s coffers and reduce savings at both the family and national level, thereby hindering national development.

It should be noted that the calibre of people being discussed here are not of the working class and are, therefore, not productive as they do not contribute to the family income or to national development in any way, but rather create a burdensome situation for the family and the nation at large.

If a large number of the population who do not belong to the productive class are dependent on the few working classes, then, there will be an imbalance between a dependent population and an independent population. In such a situation, the economy can hardly be stable.

Gone are the days when the number of children one had, determined one’s power and influence.

Today, to better the nation, the best we can do is to make education the pillar for effective productivity for the younger population who are the future leaders.

With a sizeable population, we could increase our Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and life expectancy, and increase access to health services, water and electricity.

What we need to do in the fight against teenage pregnancy and child marriage is for all stakeholders—the media, traditional authorities, religious leaders, parliamentarians, private sector, politicians and non-governmental organizations to join forces together to ensure that the vision of a sustained quality of life for all Ghanaians becomes a reality.

The writer is an officer of the Information Services Department (ISD) and the Head of Public Relations, National Population Council (NPC)
[email protected] (0244805025)

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