Stakeholders in girl-child education have advised parents and community leaders to shun the act of protecting sexual and gender-based violence perpetrators.
“When the perpetrators get involved in any sort of sexual and gender-based violence, do not shield them. Let the law take its course. It is important that we use the laws to protect our girls,” they said.
The stakeholders gave the advice at a national stakeholders meeting organised by the Purim African Youth Development Platform (PAYDP) in Accra last Friday.
The participants included representatives from the Ghana Health Service, the Ghana Education Service, Social Welfare and Community Development, district assemblies, chiefs, chiefs and peer educators and parents.
The meeting was aimed at engaging stakeholders to share their experiences and ideas to improve the implementation of a national adolescent initiative titled “Adolescent Girls Programme”.
The programme, which is funded by the Global Affairs Canada through UNFPA, is implemented across the country by the government through national institutions and regional coordinating councils, as well as civil society organisations such as PAYDP.
The Monitoring and Evaluation Consultant at PAYDP, Ms Monica Agyei, said the programme was tailored to reduce risks and vulnerabilities facing adolescent girls in the country.
“We sensitise adolescents, parents, community leaders and other stakeholders to issues facing adolescents through mentorship and education and entertainment clinical services,” she said.
PAYDP, according to Ms Agyei, had implemented the Adolescent Girls Programme in six regions, namely the Greater Accra (Bubuashie, Kaneshie, Awudome) and the Central (Assin Damang, Assin Asamankese, Assin Adiembra).
The rest are the Ashanti (Fante Newtown, Asem, Yalewa, Nhyeaso Submetro), Bono East (Techiman Municipal-Forikrom, Akismasu, Konimase, Kintampo South-Bredi, Krabonsu, Agyina) and the Upper East in Bongo and the North East Region at Walewale.
The Executive Director of the PAYDP, Rev. Aku Xornam Kevi. expressed the hope that the adolescent girls programme would go a long way to support the needs of girls.
“We work with adolescent girls within the ages of 15 and 19. This is a critical age that girls get pregnant and are exposed to sexually transmitted diseases so we are working to address their needs in this regard,” she added.
A representative from the Bono-East Region, Ms Millicent Ocloo, in her presentation, identified lack of information about sexual and reproductive health rights, poverty and pressure to marry to be among major factors of teenage pregnancy in the districts in her region.
“Therefore, there is the need for girls to be empowered more through education, vocational skills training and talent exploration and development. We want the girls to have a life-long opportunity like the boys,” she stated.
Meanwhile, a representative from the UNFPA, Ms Edith Asamani-Wasie, acknowledged the stakeholders for their relentless efforts to empower adolescent girls and encouraged them to critically play their required roles for a successful implementation of the programme.
“Let everybody put their hands on deck. Play your role critically to support the implementation of the programme. When the programme is well implemented, it will go a long way to help the girls in the community,” Ms Asamani-Wasie said.
She added that there was the need to intensify the programme's focus on addressing gender dynamics, changing gender stereotypes and achieving empowerment of adolescent girls.