Two hundred girls in three refugee camps in the Western and Central regions have benefitted from a Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR) information and legal literacy training.
Organised under a United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and United Nations High Commissioner for Refugee United (UNHCR) partnership, the programme was to enhance the knowledge and skills of adolescent refugee girls to exercise their sexual rights and also identify service delivery points for addressing Sexual and Gender Based Violence(SGBV) and human rights abuses.
It is part of a UNFPA-UNICEF Joint Programme, funded by Global Affairs Canada, which seeks to harmonise efforts, particularly with other UN agencies to address the identified gaps and challenges affecting adolescent girls; and concentrate on areas where those UN agencies could make the most valuable contributions.
The programme has been designed to support government implement its adolescent girls’ vision and scale up the existing strategies and interventions to further an integrated policy response which holistically serves the needs of girls in Ghana.
Scheduled to be executed from 2018 to 2020, the programme is targeting adolescent girls 10 -19 years in and out of school, married and unmarried as primary beneficiaries; and girls aged 20-24 years as secondary beneficiaries.
Through the programme, UNFPA and UNICEF are providing support to model, roll-out and learn from interventions facilitating adolescent girls’ access to gender-responsive comprehensive sexuality education and youth-friendly sexual and reproductive health services, including family planning and contraception across 36 selected districts in eight regions.
Special attention will be given to vulnerable girls such as Kayayei, girls with disabilities and girls in humanitarian situations (refugee camps).
Partnership with UNHCR
For the period 2018, UNFPA will partner UNHCR to provide SRHR information and legal literacy to 300 refugee girls as an entry point.
Follow-up engagements with other adolescent girls and in the refugee communities and settings will continue in 2019.
It was in this regard that the UNFPA and the UNHCR organised training sessions in three refugee camps dubbed “ empowering adolescent girls in humanitarian settings’, to complement and leverage efforts to improve access of adolescent refugee girls aged 10-19 years to gender-responsive comprehensive sexuality education and quality youth-friendly SRH services.
Over a period of three days, 200 adolescent girls in refugee camps in Ampain and Krisan, located in the Western Region and Egyeikrom in the Central Region, participated in three separate training sessions on SRHR and gender equality.
The adolescent girls were also taken through Comprehensive Sexual Education (CSE).
They were educated on their reproductive health, the menstrual cycle, puberty, how to prevent unwanted pregnancies and sexual hygiene.
In his presentation on SGBV, Sergeant Malaika-Jibril Alhassan of the Domestic Violence Victim Support Unit (DOVVSU) of the Ghana Police Service said the law protects children and adolescents against the risk situations associated with sex.
He explained that SGBV can be physical, sexual, emotional/ psychological, verbal abuse or in the form of harmful cultural practices.
Sgt Alhassan emphasised that SGBV are actions that abuse the sexual integrity of the victims and violate their sexual feelings and privacy.
“These abuses happen everywhere, including communities, homes, schools, workplaces, public places, in families, refugee camps and in religious settings,’ he stated.
SGBV, he added, causes injury, fear, sadness, isolation, aggressiveness, unwanted pregnancies and genital infections in victim.
He encouraged the participants to be courageous and report anyone who perpetuates any sexual abuse against them, stressing, “Do not believe anyone who says if you tell you will die. It is not true. Tell a trusted source for the required action to be taken.”
Sgt Alhassan further advised the adolescent girls to take precautionary measures to prevent sexual abuse.
“Avoid walking alone, using unapproved routes, undressing in front of male relatives and accepting gifts from strangers,’ he stressed.