The contribution of females to the socio economic development of is inevitable. Females constitute more than fifty one percent of the entire Ghanaian population and therefore education should be a necessary prerequisite for them to be able to significantly contribute to the development aspirations of Ghana. According to the 2010 population census of Ghana, females constitute 12, 633,978 representing 51.2 % of the entire population of almost 25 million. Several researches have shown that when this section of the population is properly educated they will make immerse contribution in terms of our health, social and economic development than we have today. Many young girls especially those in our rural communities even though have the desire to complete school become drop outs due to several circumstances and mess their lives up.
There is therefore the need for us as a country to step up strategies to sustain young girls in school as their male counterpart does. One of the major issues which continue to stand on the way of young girls is teenage pregnancy.
According to a report by the Ghana Coalition of NGOs on Health (GCNH), an estimated number of 750,000 teenagers from 15 to 19 years become pregnant in Ghana annually.
It is a worrying and disturbing situation since most of these girls are not able to go back to school and that is why we believe that issues affecting women must be high on the agenda of every stakeholder in the development of Ghana particularly the upsurge in teenage pregnancy in some part of the country which is hindering girl child education.
According to the Ghana National Education Campaign Coalition report, girls enrolment continue to decline progressively from the basic to the tertiary level of our education despite several international and local interventions such as the Education For All and the Millennium Development goals. For instance the goal three of the MDG seeks to promote gender equality and promote women empowerment. To achieve the goal of the MDG three, there should be a progressive improvement of the educational attainment of girls.
Adolescence Reproductive Health Right
Reproductive Health is a complete physical, mental and social well being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity, in all matters related to the reproductive system and to its functions and processes (ICPD).
This is an educational session where adolescents are educated to make informed decisions about their reproductive and sexual health. This because adolescents have unique reproductive and sexual health needs. According to Ghana?s Adolescent Reproductive Health Policy 2000, adolescence is defined as the second decade of life: That is 10 to 19 years.
The 2010 population and Housing Census (PHC) in Ghana indicate that adolescents form 22.4% of the total population.
The World Health Organization estimated that 16 million girls globally at aged 15 to 19 years and 12 million girls under the age of 15 give birth every year (WHO, 2012). It also added that one in five girls give birth by the age of 18.
The United Nation Population Funds (UNFPA) has revealed that more than 16million adolescent girls aged between 19 and 25 become mothers every year with almost 40 percent of them acquiring HIV. The UNFPA statistics further identify complications from pregnancy and child birth is leading cause of death in this age group especially in developing countries.
A report published on myjoyonline.com last year saw a 62 percent increment in teenage pregnancy in the central region. Dr. Daniel Asare who is the medical director of the central regional hospital said in 2012 alone, close to 14,000 teenagers got pregnant in the region.
The Ashanti Regional Directorate of Health last year recorded 21, 171 cases of teenage pregnancy whilst 20,720 cases were recorded in 2012. The region also recorded 67deaths as result of teenage pregnancy and this figure is above that of the previous year. The Deputy Director of nursing services in charge of public health, Mrs. Mary Paulina Bazaabon made this known at a seminar in February this year.
A reproductive Health Specialist, Mrs. Apatu Christiana with the Ridge Hospital in facilitating a workshop arganised by Ipas in Kumasi recently revealed that globally, it is estimated that 47 million abortions are committed every year with 20 million of these cases being unsafe abortions. In Ghana out of 100,000 live births 451 of them die. Statistics has also shown that 85 million unintended pregnancies occur in the developing countries with as much as 40 million ending in abortions. Africa is therefore the leading continent with respect to the rate of abortions (Graphic Mirror Editorial, September 12, 2014). The Development report of the Ministry of Health revealed that 16, 182 girls went through unsafe abortion in 2011, 10,785 in 2010 and 8,717 in 2009. The figures here epitomize what is actually happening to our teenage girls across the length and breadth of the country.
The way forward
The adolescence stage of development period is characterized by rapid changes especially physical and sexual growth. There is therefore the need for all meaningful Ghanaians to embark on serious education on reproductive health. There is enough evidence which point to the fact that most teenagers in rural areas do not get adequate information on reproductive health to make informed decisions.
In addition we need more commitment from duty bearers in the country in strengthening the Guidance and Counselling and the Girl Child Education unit of the Ghana Education Service. This should be done through capacity building of Personnel on sex education and equipping the unit with adequate resources to execute their mandate.
The Ghana Education Service must have a strong collaboration with the Ghana Health Service to assist the students to have access to some facilities of the Health service. For instance the Health Service has adolescent Health Corners scattered across the length and breadth of the country with resource personnel which GES can take advantage of.
Females? capacities must be built on a solid ground so that their human capital can be tapped well. All hands must be on deck to ensure that girls go through the educational ladder smoothly without any major challenge.
Ali Tanti Robert
The writer is the Director of Youth Alliance for Development, a youth development focused NGO with its head office in Obuasi.