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Adolescents demand at an end to child marriage

BY: Graphic.com.gh
 Adolescents demand at an end to child marriage
A group picture of some of the adolescents who attended the forum

Taiba Yahaya got married soon after completing her Senior High School (SHS) in Walewale, in the Upper East Region.

Unable to further her education due to financial constraints, Taiba got married and had a son.

Not long after, the marriage collapsed and she set off to Accra to work and cater for her child.

For three years she worked as a head porter (Kayayo) at Tudu, a surburb of Accra.

Taiba got involved in a programme that trains kayayei in economic skills, such as tie and dye fabric making and also educate them on adolescent sexual health and rights.

The programme is implemented by Purim African Youth Development Platform (PAYDP), a Civil Society Organisation (CSO), with funding from  the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA).

With her acquired skills, she started making tie and dye fabrics, which she sold to supplement her income from the head porter business. 

With the assistance of PAYDP, Taiba is back in school.  In the 2021-2022 academic year, she enrolled into the Accra Technical University and is now studying Hotel Catering and Institutional Management. She hopes to completed her studies in 2024.

Adolescent pregnancy

Bailawu Awudu from Techiman in the Bono East region got pregnant at age 16 and had to drop out of school. Without any means to support herself, she was introduced to an Adolescent Sexual Reproductive Health and Rights programme implemented by PAYDP in Techiman and she actively participated in the skills training aspect of the project, learning leatherworks and how to make beads and liquid soap.

In addition, she received information on adolescent sexual health and rights and gender-based violence.

Due to her vibrant contribution to the group and her zeal to encourage and support other teen mothers, Bailawu was supported by PAYDP to take up dress making. Now, at age 18 and with a two-year-old son, Bailawu is an apprentice seamstress.

Despite the challenges faced by Taiba and Bailawu, they embraced the opportunities offered by PAYDP and are now pursuing their dreams.

Both adolescents took part in the two-day ‘Adolescent Learning Forum on Ending Child Marriage and Delegates and Legislators Dialogue’ organized by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) in Accra.

The forum

The forum brought together 120 adolescent boys and girls from the six regions implementing the Global Programme to End Child Marriage (GPECM). They are the Central, Volta, Ashanti, Upper East, Greater Accra and Upper West regions.

It offered a platform for the adolescents to learn and share success stories of the GPECM and exhibit products of their economic empowerment programmes.

Development and implementing partners also shared best practices on combating child marriage, adolescent pregnancies and how to create safe spaces for girls to strive.

Addressing the participants, Mr. Barnabas Yisa Country Representative of UNFPA said the forum has since its inception created a safe space for adolescent girls from the child marriage communities in Ghana to share their practical experiences and propose solutions towards zero child marriage and teenage pregnancy in Ghana.

“This year’s Adolef also focused on adolescent boys considering the critical role men and boys play on combating sexual and gender- based violence and to ending child marriage,” said Mr. Yisa.

Mr. Yisa expressed the hope that by participating in the forum, the capacity of the adolescents would be enhanced to make informed decisions about their lives.