The Planned Parenthood Association of Ghana (PPAG) has launched a child marriage free community alert campaign to rally community support and ownership to fight child marriage.
This has become necessary after a thorough assessment of young girls showed that girls between the ages of 13 and 14 are deceived by men with a pittance to sleep with them, leading to high levels of teenage pregnancy.
Organised by the PPAG in partnership with the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) with support from the Canadian Government, the programme is expected to enlighten young children on the need to aim for higher livelihood, address the exceeding rate of child marriage as well as to reduce the adverse effect of poverty on families.
It was held at Fakpe, Dadome, Adidokpoe, Morklikpo, Volo and Aveyime communities in the North Tongu District in the Volta Region.
As part of addressing the menace, communities across the country are pledging and hoisting flags as a sign of their commitment to ending child marriage.
Speaking at the launch, the District Director of the National Commission for Civic Education (NCCE) for North Tongu, Mr Daniel Klikpo, noted that the key drivers of child marriage were linked to gender inequality, poverty, social norms, cultural and traditional practices as well as teenage pregnancy.
He said fighting child marriage had become a core developmental and human rights issue, and, therefore, emphasised the need to develop methods of intervention to reduce the prevalence of child marriage.
He also said that ending sexual and gender-based violence against girls and women was not about demanding exceptional treatment, however “it is simply about letting girls and women live in dignity, and more importantly, it is fundamental to the growth and wellbeing of young people”.
He, therefore, appealed to the Volta Regional House of Chiefs to formulate by-laws which would help enforce the need for families of young boys who impregnate the girls to regularly contribute to the upbringing of the girls before, during and after the baby is born.
Meanwhile, the Youth Project Officer for PPAG, Mr Kenneth Atsu Goka, noted that the lack of livelihood skills and employable opportunities were reasons young girls became pregnant, and therefore, advised parents to monitor and check their children to reduce the usage of mobile phones and to take their studies seriously in order to have a promising future.
Many adolescent girls were excited that their communities were on board to safeguard their future and protect them from child marriage.
Together we work to make our communities safe for girls to thrive.
The Chief of Fakpe, Togbe Mawuli Yao, advised parents not to take items in the form of gifts in exchange for their daughters to go into early marriage.
Meanwhile, the queen mother of Volo, Mamaga Adokua Azaworgbe, urged parents to improve on parent-child communication and take key interest in the welfare of their children.
The Assembly man for Volo, Mr Anthony Menuah, encouraged young people to aspire to a better future and adhere to advice from parents.