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Regional News of Tuesday, 8 December 2015

Source: GNA

Upper East Queen Mothers to fight Child Marriages

Some selected Queen Mothers from communities in the Upper East Region have ended a two day capacity building training workshop on how to help fight the endemic child marriages and teenage pregnancies among school girls in the Region.

According to national statistics, the prevalence rate of child marriages in Ghana ranges between 12.2 per cent and 39.2 per cent with the Upper East Region having the highest percentage of 39.2 per cent.

The training workshop held in Navrongo and organized by the Our Lady Of Mercy Community Services (OLAM), an NGO, with sponsorship from the Open Society Initiatives for West Africa (OSIWA), was aimed at building the capacity of the stakeholders to become change agents in their respective communities.

The programme also attracted stakeholders including the National Commission For Civic Education, the Department of Social Welfare, the Ghana Education Service, the Media and Students from some selected Senior High Schools in the Region among others.

The Project Director of OLAM, Mr Emmanuel Atiiga, said that the spate of forced marriages and teenage pregnancies in communities in the Region particularly among school girls was becoming a major problem which needed a multi-sectorial approach to deal with.

“Our current visit to one of the Districts to invite participants for this training programme revealed that the issues are no more with the Junior High and Senior High Schools but trickles down to school pupils at the primary level. Some girls at the basic levels are getting pregnant whilst others are forced by their parents into marriages thereby jeopardizing their future,” the Project Director indicated.

Mr Atiiga stressed that if care was not taken to curb the menace, not only will the education of girls be jeopardized but their health might also be at risk.

The Project Director said to help contribute to addressing the phenomenon, his outfit through the support of the Export Trade and Agriculture (EDAIF), Ghana Man Trust Fund, OSIWA and COTVET –SDF had trained women and girls in various vocational courses such as batik, tie and dye, beads making, soap making, floral arrangement and decoration and entrepreneurial development including the establishment of a revolving fund.

Mr Atiiga who used the occasion to present start-up kits of sewing machines, certificates and some cash to 30 graduates of vocational training schools said the rationale behind all the interventions was to empower the women and young girls economically to be able to take care of themselves and their children’s education.

Giving her experience on how the Bongo District handles the phenomena, the Queen Mother of the Bongo Traditional Council, Mrs Christiana Nge Abeliwine, said through the family tribunal, men who impregnate young girls were sanctioned by making some of them to take care of the victims throughout their antenatal and post natal service deliveries.

She stressed the need for parents to make friends with their daughters so as to make them disclose any information in relation to their Sexual Reproductive Health to them.

The Municipal Director of the Department of Social Welfare, Mr James Brown Fankey, who blamed the problem particularly teenage pregnancies among school children on irresponsible parenting, impressed upon parents to ensure that they live up to their responsibilities by providing the needs of their children.

Mr Pilate Pontius Apaabey Baba, the Regional Director of the Nationa Council for Civic Education (NCCE), educated the stakeholders on the Children Rights Law 560 and pointed out that under the laws, it was wrong and unconstitutional to force a child to be betrothed or subject a dowry transaction, and entreated people to report parents who were engaged in the negative act to the Police.