Ghana has recorded more than half a million teenage pregnancies in the last five years. A total of 69,856 out of this number, came from the Ashanti region.
Dr Bawa Faisal, UNFPA National Programme Analyst on Gender-based Violence, who made this known, said the increasing spate of teenage pregnancies called for effective measures from government and faith-based organizations to address it.
Speaking to the Ghana News Agency in an interview in Kumasi, he said faith-based organizations needed to strengthen education on harmful cultural and social practices that seek to demean the rights of children and young adults.
He said strengthening moral education and putting in a place effective measures will prevent teenagers from engaging in immoral acts such as prostitution and early sex to help reduce unwanted pregnancies which is currently on the increase in the country.
He said harmful cultural practices such as Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) and early child marriages, were a serious challenge to the proper development of young girls.
Women and girls needed to be trained and educated to help empower them to make informed life choices, adding that, marriage and childbirth should be the decision of the young girl herself.
Dr Faisal said the UNFPA had a mandate to partner with key stakeholders to ensure the wellbeing and welfare of women and girls in the country.
He said that faith-based organisations have a unique relationship with their followers in the society and they could help shape the young ones in the society.
Culture and religious factors play significant roles in shaping attitudes and behaviours related to reproductive health, family planning and gender issues.
Therefore, religious leaders and institutions played dual roles in shaping community attitudes, he stated
He said it was also important that religious teachings aligned with the principles of human rights, social justice and wellbeing of individuals and families, adding that, despite the religious and cultural diversity, they must come together and seek for a bright future for the youth.