Ghana needs an Adolescent Policy – Gender Advocate

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Mrs Mercy Catherine Adjabeng

Mrs Mercy Catherine Adjabeng, Gender Advocate, Communications Specialist and Author of the Discovery Teens Magazine, an educative magazine on adolescents’ issues, has called for a national policy for adolescents.

She said the policy which had been progressive in other countries such as Canada and Switzerland, would address the peculiar needs of adolescent in the country.

Mrs Adjabeng made the call at the Discovery Teens Stakeholders Dialogue on the theme: ‘‘Safeguarding the future of Ghana’s Adolescent: A conversation among stakeholders’’ to discuss adolescent challenges and the opportunities to address them.

“Yes,we have a children’s act, welfare policy, adoption and orphanages but it is about time we had a policy specifically for adolescents so that we can even have specialised healthcare like ante-natal for pregnancy,” she said.

The Author said stakeholders had the responsibility in ensuring that the required systems and processes were in place to help them navigate the transition into productive adulthood.

Investing in adolescents, she said, would enhance the country’s socio-economic development and human capital resource, and determine the focus and direction of its fortunes and future.

Mrs Adjabeng said, unfortunately, most of the discourse on youth development had been directed at improving educational, skills and employment opportunities for the youth inadvertently excluded the adolescents.

She said, without any national policy or strategic document on adolescents’ integration into mainstream labour force and the employment market, it had not been surprising that there were high numbers of adolescents on the streets, engaging in petty and serious crime for survival.

She said it had made them vulnerable to recruitment into gangs, human and drug trafficking, prostitution and possible terrorist groups.

The Gender Advocate said, it had also reflected in the Ghana Health Service astronomical figure of 109,888 teen pregnancy record in 2020, with the lowest age of a pregnant girl as 10 years.

She said Adolescence, defined by the World Health Organization (WHO) as a stage for children from 10 to 19 years, was a critical stage of development where decisions with lifelong impact and critical choices of career and relations had to be made, value formation and self-concept development.

Mrs Adjabeng noted that adolescents did not have a voice, hence difficult for them to ask questions therefore, most of them had been curious and experimental.

“All they want is for someone to listen to them and help them with their challenges,” she said.

She advised the adolescents to be patient and prudent, and seek for accurate information to make informed choices from their parents and well-meaning adults.

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