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Opinions of Friday, 8 March 2013

Columnist: Amenyah, Awo Aidam

Let’s End Violence Against Women In Ghana

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By Awo Aidam Amenyah

With the support of the Big Lottery Fund, UK ActionAid is implementing a multi-country project called Stop Violence against Girls in School (SVAGS).The Stop Violence Against Girls in School (SVAGS) project is being implemented simultaneously in Ghana, Kenya and Mozambique.

In Ghana, ActionAid Ghana is collaborating with: The Ghana National Education Campaign Coalition-GNECC and Songtaba - combining research, advocacy and community-level initiatives to improve girls’ access to and achievement in education.

The SVAGS also helps to create opportunities for girls’ empowerment and to establish a lasting basis for the transformation of gender relations in schools and communities.

Each year around the world, International Women's Day (IWD) is celebrated on March 8. Thousands of events occur not just on this day but throughout March to mark the economic, political and social achievements of women. Organizations, governments, charities, educational institutions, women's groups, corporations and the media celebrate the day.

The theme for 2012 was Connecting Girls, Inspiring Futures resulted in the United Nations support for the first International Day of the Girl celebrated on 11 October 2012.Now for 2013, the Coalition can boldly say that the Gender Agenda is truly gaining momentum and it is necessary to create the opportunity for girls to participate in driving the Agenda.

Addressing violence against girls in schools is essential to reduce HIV infection, pregnancy and early marriages and reinforce girls’ self-esteem, an important element for their success in education.

GNECC and partners are calling on every stakeholder including students to be protectors of girls and not being perpetuators of violence against girls. Our Schools should be a place where girls are empowered.

The Coalition joins others to congratulate women even as they mark the International Women’s Day globally and also call on them to work hard to keep their focus in promoting issues of women but not forget the girl child in all these struggles so that the girls stay in school and complete their education in the best of environments.

The theme for this year’s International Women’s Day calls for some stock taking. It provides us with an opportunity to step back to evaluate the advancements that have been made not only in girl’s rights, but in ensuring that an enabling environment exist where girls and boys can achieve their optimal development.

It is an opportunity to educate ourselves on the impact gender has on society and to consider what support systems and frameworks need to be established to allow boys and girls to become true partners working together towards development. A person’s sex should not dictate what that individual can become or what they can contribute to their society and country in future.

The Domestic Violence and Victim Support Unit (DOVVSU) of the Ghana Police Service was created on 26th October, 1998 to create an environment that provides timely and equitable response for survivors of abuse in collaboration with stakeholders and to prevent, protect and prosecute crimes of violence, abuse, neglect of the vulnerable in the society.

The Girls’ Education Unit (GEU) of the Ghana Education Service(GES) was created in 1997 to coordinate and plan activities to address the lack of gender equality in access, participation and achievement of girls in education, to ascertain the reasons contributing to the low participation of girls in formal education’.

GNECC is calling on the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection (MoGCSP) to equip the Girls Education Unit of the Ghana Education Service and the Domestic Violence and Victims Support Unit of the Ghana Police Service to play the following roles under the Memorandum of Understanding between the two state institutions;

A. Develop programme to enhance the social capital of girls and ensure their continuation from basic to secondary school education by addressing violence against girls in schools.

B. Create a school culture and environment that supports ‘zero tolerance’ for violence.

C. Impart values and skills to pupils and students to prevent violence against girls in schools.

D. Reducing the incidence of the various forms of violence against girls in schools by increasing the knowledge of pupils and students to learn the causes of and solutions for addressing VAGS and supporting peer leadership and activism.

E. Promoting school-based/ school community violence against girls’ prevention programmes in educational institutions in Ghana.

F. Creating gender desegregated data and statistics on VAGS in Ghana for research, advocacy and prevention programme.

G. Strengthening reporting referral systems.

GNECC and partners over four years now have tried to play their part in ensuring that the future for girls is bright, equal, safe and rewarding through the Stop Violence Against Girls in Schools project. In doing this,GNECC holds the view that boys and girls cannot be treated the same rather each should be given the opportunity to develop.

LONG LIVE GHANA AND LONG LIVE THE GIRLS OF GHANA.

*Awo Aidam Amenyah** is a Gender Programme Officer of GNECC*