Help rebuild traditional family systems – Ghanaians urged

Professor Peter Takyi Peprah
Professor Peter Takyi Peprah

Professor Peter Takyi Peprah, the Assistant Chief Government Statistician, has called for the salvaging of the nation’s eroding family values and systems due to urbanisation.

He said although rapid urbanisation rates had their positive and negative effects on societies, it was adversely affecting Ghana’s traditional family systems and values, and called on the Government to urgently initiate the development of sustainable family-friendly urban policies to protect families.

He noted that urbanisation had become a major mega-trend shaping the world and the well-being of families worldwide, hence the UN policy direction required urgent collaborations to ensure a sustainable future for the attainment of the several Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Prof. Peprah, who is also the Director of Fields Operations at the Ghana Statistical Services (GSS), was speaking at a virtual symposium held in Accra, organised by the Department of Social Welfare (DSW), under the auspices of the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection (MoGCSP).

It was part of the activities to mark the 2022 UN International Day of the Family on the theme: “Families and Urbanisation,” to raise awareness about the importance of developing sustainable family-friendly urban policies.

The global event, which is marked annually on May 15, further focuses on understanding the economic, demographic, and social factors like health, education, children’s rights, gender equality, work-family balance, and social inclusion among others that impacted families as a unit.

Prof. Peprah said families were being torn apart, with indigenous Ghanaian languages going extinct, and “we now find ourselves in an era where some nuclear families do not welcome visits by their own extended family members, except by special invitation”.

Therefore, individualism had now replaced the culture of sharing and bonding between cousins, nieces and siblings.

He said the poor maintenance of traditional family bonds had led to the collapse of support systems that used to be the core for socialising humans, and through which kinsmen, were encouraged to reinforce the upbringing of children, while seeking the welfare of each other.

Prof. Peprah said family roles were now changing under the stress of urbanisation, as women were now assuming roles in national development with the additional responsibilities outside the home.

He said some parents now spent virtually no time with their spouses, children, neighbours or extended family members, a factor that had contributed to records of high divorce rates, domestic violence, teenage pregnancies, child marriages, and single parenthood.

Child neglect had further prepared the grounds for deviant behaviours leading to social vices, such as armed robbery, kidnapping, trafficking, substance abuse, contract killings, prostitution, lesbian and gay practices, and occultism, he said.

Prof. Peprah mentioned another looming danger of urbanisation as the proliferation of non-traditional family forms, and new types of households involving people without homes (streetism), no households (postponing first married), or children (delaying first child birth) which was negatively affecting Ghana’s fertility rate.

He said the pull factors attracting mostly the youth (more male than female) into urban centers included, the search for better living conditions including jobs, good roads, water, transportation, hospitals, schools, accommodation, technology, electricity and entertainment.

Unfortunately, most of them end up in worse conditions such as poverty and homelessness, due to their inability to secure desired aspirations.

The 2021 Population and Housing Census report, he said, showed that 56.7 per cent of Ghana’s population lived in urban areas, with the urban centres of the Greater Accra Region alone being bloated by a population of nearly 92 per cent.

The report, showed that seven out of the country’s 16 regions had gone beyond the 50 per cent population mark, and the likelihood that Ghana would soon pass the 67 per cent dot, was not far from the truth, considering the current trends, and he suggested that a thorough national assessment of Ghana’s family systems before, now, and how it would be in the future.

Professor Spencer Duncan, an Economic Management Consultant, also lamented over the change in the meaning of family, saying, “all kinds of marriages, including same sex, marriage of convenience, those by chance and compulsion are now being encouraged by the society”.

Massive competition within relationships in urban settings were now common due to the economic stress, and called for disciplined leadership to achieve the expected change.

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