Source: Ghana Web
The Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection (MoGCSP) says as the country reflects on the achievements of the past 15 years of the Millennium Development Goals and the planned Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) for the next 15, it is an opportune time to consider the importance of social, economic and political investment in the empowerment of adolescent girls.

This, according to the ministry, is fundamental to breaking the intergenerational transmission of poverty, violence, exclusion and discrimination and to achieving equitable and sustainable development outcomes.


This was contained in a statement to celebrate the International Day of the Girl Child on Sunday, October 11, on the theme: "The Power of the Adolescent Girl: Vision for 2030".


"We are firm in our belief that if effectively supported during the adolescent years, girls have the potential to change the world – both as the empowered girls of today and as tomorrow's workers, mothers, entrepreneurs, mentors, household heads and political leaders," the statement said.


The ministry said it was investing in eliminating certain challenges, including child marriage, which militated against the empowerment of adolescent girls for a more equitable and prosperous future, one in which half of humanity was an equal partner in solving the problems of economic growth, disease prevention and global sustainability.


The prevalence rate of child marriage in Ghana ranges between 12.2 per cent and 39.2 per cent. To this end, the ministry, together with its partners such as UNICEF, is developing a strategic framework and it says the End Child Marriage Project to kick start activities aimed at ending child marriage in Ghana will be launched in December.


Another focus of the celebration, the ministry says, is to invest in puberty education, menstrual hygiene management, sexual and reproductive health education and services. This will involve the engagement of 225 girls in two correctional centres in Accra—the Osu and Bostal institutes— to climax the celebration for this year.


In another statement, the Women in Law and Development in Africa (WiLDAF) says it joins the United Nations to call on the government, the media, civil society organisations and private sector stakeholders to commit more to putting adolescent girls at the centre of achieving the 2030 sustainable development efforts.


The group, which is a pan-African non-governmental women's rights organisation committed to the promotion and protection of the rights of women and children, is also calling for critical investments in the present and future of girls by investing in high quality education, skills training, access to technology and other learning initiatives that prepare girls for life, jobs and leadership.


It also calls for investment in health, including puberty education, menstrual hygiene management and sexual and reproductive health education and services and the promotion of zero tolerance against physical, mental, and sexual violence against girls.


It further calls for the enactment and consistent implementation of social, economic and policy mechanisms to combat early marriage and female genital mutilation and the promotion of gender-responsive legislation and policies across all areas especially for adolescent girls who are disabled, vulnerable and marginalised and victims of trafficking and sexual exploitation.


The UNFPA, UNICEF and WFP, in commemorating the day, say Ghana has an unprecedented opportunity to focus on the empowerment of the adolescent girl to drive progress and transformation if increased investments are made to address poverty and gender inequality, which are the key drivers of vulnerability among adolescents, particularly girls.


According to the three UN agencies, the policy environment in Ghana is favourable to adolescents and young people in general, taking into account the strong emphasis on reducing the inequity that runs through all social sector policies and strategies. However, the benefits of economic development have been unevenly distributed and significant disparities remain that hold harsh consequences for the nation's adolescents and young people.


The UNFPA Representative in Ghana, Mr Babatunde Ahonsi, believes that investing in adolescents and young people has proven valuable in addressing poverty alleviation and gender equality, promoting social justice and building inclusive societies.


For her part, the UNICEF representative says, "As a group, adolescent girls can be a formidable force to create a better world with the right investments, support and interventions; adolescent girls have the power and potential to transform families, communities, nations and the world. Ghana stands to lose future leaders and innovators of tomorrow if any of these adolescents are left out due to disparities."


"If we ensure that adolescent girls today have access to good nutrition and education, delay marriages and pregnancies, then by 2030, more girls will reach their full potential and Ghana will be closer to the UN's Zero Hunger goal which aims at eliminating hunger in our lifetime," said Ms Mutinta Chimuka, WFP Representative and Country Director in Ghana.


In a related development, a new Gender Report compiled by UNESCO's Education For All (EFA) Global Monitoring Report (GMR) for International Day of the Girl Child shows that no country in Sub-Saharan Africa has achieved gender parity in both primary and secondary education. There is still only 92 girls per 100 boys in primary school in the region. The country with the greatest inequity remaining in primary and lower secondary is Chad.


The Director-General of UNESCO, Ms Irina Bokova, said: "Educating a girl educates a nation. It unleashes a ripple effect that changes the world unmistakably for the better.


We have recently set ourselves a new ambitious agenda to achieve a sustainable future. Success in this endeavour is simply not possible without educated, empowered girls, young women and mothers."


The Report, released jointly by the GMR and the United Nations Girls Education Initiative, shows that considerable challenges remain, with gender disparities widening at each cycle of the education system and the poorest girls remaining at stark disadvantage. In Guinea and Niger, approximately 70 per cent of the poorest girls have never attended school compared with less than 20 per cent of the richest boys.


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