One thousand pregnant teenagers and teenage mothers are undergoing entrepreneurship training across the country as part of efforts to mitigate the negative impact of COVID-19 on girls during the lockdown.
The training was put together by the Ghana Congress on Evangelism (GHACOE) in partnership with the National Entrepreneurship and Innovation Programme (NEIP) under the Ghana Skills and Enterprise Development Programme (GSEDP).
The five-day training seeks to equip the beneficiaries with entrepreneurial/life skills after which they would be set up in business to cushion them against the impact of the global pandemic.
The exercise has become necessary on the back of study conducted by GHACOE which revealed that most already vulnerable girls were used by their parents or guardians to engage in various economic activities to augment family incomes, thereby increasing the risk of getting pregnant.
Government through NEIP is therefore supporting GHACOE to equip some girls who got pregnant during the period with entrepreneurial skills in the areas of fashion, catering and cosmetology to economically empower them.
In the Ashanti Region, 80 of such girls drawn from nine districts are simultaneously receiving the training in Kumasi, Ejisu and Bekwai.
The beneficiary districts are Adansi North, Bosomtwe, Atwima Nwabiagya, Kwabre East, New Edubiase, Asokore Mampong, Ejisu, Oforikrom and Bantama.
Participants shall also be tutored by nurses and midwives on ante-natal and postnatal services and how to take proper care of their babies even as they worked to earn a living.
Mrs. Theodosia Jackson, a leading member of GHACOE who opened the Kumasi training, said the economy of Ghana, like many other countries, had a negative and severe impact following the outbreak of the coronavirus.
She said women, girls and children particularly suffered due to lack of access to essential services, financial distress, food insecurity, mental health and increased risk of exposure to violence and child labour.
She said the collaboration between GHACOE and NEIP was to combat the negative impact of COVID-19 on young girls who unfortunately got pregnant and present to them hope through entrepreneurial training, counseling, guidance and healthy lifestyles.
About 350 such girls, according to her, were identified in the beneficiary districts in Ashanti, but only 80 girls were selected due to budget constraints and other factors that guided the selection process.
She said most of the girls had been abandoned by their parents after getting pregnant and dropping out of school and that the initiative would enable them to support themselves and their babies as young mothers.
Mrs. Jackson advised parents not to abandon their children because of teenage pregnancy, saying that, such behaviour could force the girls to abort their babies and they might lose their lives in the process.
Mr. Kennedy Owusu, a representative of NEIP, said apart from training of the beneficiaries in various vocations, they shall also be taught how to manage their businesses, branding, as well as record keeping in order to achieve the desired results.