Madam Malonin Asibi, Head of Domestic Violence Secretariat, Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection (MOGCSP), has said that child marriage continue to have negative impact on the country’s quest for accelerated socio-economic development, therefore, all hands approach was required to tackle the menace.
She said though child marriage had declined significantly in recent times, the practice was still ongoing in some parts of the developing world including; Ghana and was exacerbated due to the outbreak of the novel coronavirus.
Madam Asibi made the statement at a day’s Regional Stakeholders’ meeting in Ho, organised by the Domestic Violence Secretariat, under the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection in partnership with UNICEF.
She said “ending child marriage was crucial to the development of the nation and attainment of the SDGs (Goal Five),” thus, the need for drastic and pragmatic mechanism to deal with the issue.
It was aimed at sensitising stakeholders on, and looking at possible ways of ending child marriage in Ghana, and was attended by traditional and religious leaders, District Social Welfare Officers, the media, officials from National Commission for Civic Education (NCCE) among others.
She said the outbreak of the novel coronavirus had totally erased most of the investments and efforts made over the years in reducing child marriage to a national prevalence of 19 per cent according to the 2017/18 MICS.
She underscored the need for the country’s institutions to be strengthened to transform lives, improve well-being of children and improve the overall economic development for the betterment of all citizens.
Madam Asibi said effective implementation of the country’s laws and policies would help ensure access to health and social services including sexual and reproductive health services and provide comprehensive social safety nets for families.
She said availability of the services would assist in reducing a girl’s risk of having her childhood stolen through child marriage.
She said studies showed that, girls in rural areas were more vulnerable to child marriage than those in urban areas, with girls from poor households being the worst affected, and called on stakeholders to play their role effectively to nip the situation in the bud.
Mrs Thywill Eyra Kpe, Volta Regional Director, Department of Gender, said child marriage remained one of the pervasive abuse of the rights of girls globally with over 650 million women and girls alive today married before 18 years.
She said in Sub-Saharan Africa, 37 per cent of women were married before age 18, and an estimated 12 million girls were married annually before the age of 18.
Madam Kpe said poverty, low levels of education, geographical location, religious and traditional beliefs continued to threaten the fight against child marriage and must be dealt with decisively in partnership with all stakeholders to safeguard the future of the girls.
She said child marriage had a dire developmental implications for the country as it depleted the nation’s valuable future human resource, put pressure on our limited resources, and posed a threat to country’s safety, security and health systems.
Madam Kpe said the role of stakeholders was critical to finding a lasting solution to the menace as the marriages happened in communities, churches and homes.
We owe it a responsibility as stakeholders to do our part in ensuring that every child has a voice, a chance to live and a future for sustainable national development, she said.
Madam Joyce Odame, Child Protection Officer, UNICEF, called on government and Civil Society Orgnisations to keep up the momentum and speed up efforts to enable the country achieve its targets.
She described child marriage as a multifaceted issue which required a concerted effort, and commitment from all stakeholders to find amicable solution to it.
We still have a long way to go as Ghana stands at a risk of missing the SDG targets if we do not accelerate our collective actions and efforts to end child marriage, she said.
The participants pledged their commitment to ending child marriage in the country.