The Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection, in partnership with the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), is developing a national strategic framework to end child marriage in Ghana.
The strategic framework, being developed with support from the Royal Netherlands Embassy, seeks to provide an integrated vision and a clear direction for all actors concerned and involved in processes and efforts to address child marriage in Ghana.
A current research by the International Centre for Research on Women has shown that one-third of girls in developing countries are married before the age of 18 and one in nine are married before the age of 15.
This came to light at a day’s stakeholders consultative meeting held in Tamale on Friday, on the development of the National Strategic Framework for ending child marriage in Ghana.
The northern sector consultation was to seek the stakeholders’ technical input towards the drafting of the first National Strategic Framework.
It also served as an avenue for improved coordination and collaboration between stakeholders involved in the implementation of the National Strategic Framework, and efforts to end child marriage in Ghana.
The meeting brought together more than 40 stakeholders from the law-enforcement agencies, civil society organisations (CSOs), non-governmental organisations (NGOs), traditional authorities, religious leaders and government agencies.
Child marriage is a global canker that affects millions of girls and it is also described as one of the issues that contravened the objectives of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), by reducing the achievement of the main goals of eradicating extreme poverty and hunger, universal primary education, promoting gender equality and empowering women, as well as reducing child mortality.
According to experts, child marriage is a breach of a child's human rights and contrary to international laws, as well as a violation of human rights which contravenes the Convention on the Rights of the Child and the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women.
The Technical Advisor on Gender at the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection, Madam Dinah Adiko, at the meeting, said a number of initiatives led by NGOs, CSOs and development partners have emerged in the area of ending child marriage.
She, however, noted that all those interventions had often remained “largely short-term and ad hoc in nature, thus limiting long-term sustainable impact, and remained at protective level”.
According to her, the Gender Ministry and its allies, since 2014, through the establishment of Child Marriage Unit of the Domestic Violence Secretariat, have led efforts to promote and coordinate national initiatives aimed at ending child marriage in Ghana.
Madam Adiko said the development of the framework would set out clear national goals, objectives, strategies, key interventions, roles and accountabilities across different sectors, national targets and resources to guide stakeholders' actions in pursuit of the common national objectives.
This, she noted, would eventually lead to the progressive abandonment of the child marriage practice in the country.
She mentioned lack of political will, the fear of stigma of teenage pregnancy and the perception that girls were a financial burden to families, as some of the factors fuelling child marriage in Ghana.
The Lead Consultant, Madam Taaka Awori, called for effective collaboration among sector actors to help end child marriage in the country, saying the 1992 constitution described a person under 18 as a child and, therefore, could not marry or be given away in marriage.