Gomoa Ankamu (C/R) June 14, GNA – Mr Cromwell Awadey, the Head of Programmes of International Needs Ghana, a Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO), has urged stakeholders in child development to jointly strategise to build a safe and protective environment for children.
He said the surveys they had conducted indicated that 27% of girls (one out of four) between 20 and 49 years, were married before they turned 18 and if care was not taken the human resource base of the nation would dwindle.
Mr. Awadey stated this in a presentation at a meeting the NGO held with Chiefs, Queen mothers, Assembly members, Religious and Traditional leaders in the Mfantsiman and Gomoa West, in Central Region.
He said the meeting formed part of a project dubbed: “Protection, Empowerment and Community Action against Child Marriage (PECACEM), which is being executed in 16 districts in the Gomoa West and Mfantsiman districts.
UNICEF is sponsoring the project, which aims at promoting a safe and protective environment for children. It would also respond to child marriages issues and other forms of child abuse and exploitation at the community level.
He said in the Central Region, 31.2% of girls (almost one out of three) between 20 and 49 years, were married before their 18th birthday, which was not the best.
“That is why the International Needs is creating awareness on child marriage, advocating and mobilising communities against the canker to complement the Government’s efforts in ending it.
Mr. Awadey schooled the participants on the situation and trends of child marriage in Ghana, the causes and effects of child marriage, what to achieve and the project strategies.
Mrs Joyce Odame, a Child Protection Officer at UNICEF, said there were now 125 million women and girls in Africa who were married before the 18.
She said UNICEF had a new publication: ‘A Profile of Child Marriage in Africa’, which states that by 2050 the face of child marriage would be predominantly African.
She explained that UNICEF believed that Traditional and Religious leaders were a powerful force to reckon with, because they were highly respected by their subjects and followers, and they could publicly speaks against child marriage and practices.
She said the prevalence was slowly increasing also in previously less affected regions, such as the Central Region, which currently stands at 31.2 per cent.
She expressed the hope that the commitments and actions of stakeholders would ensure an end to child marriage.