‘Kayayeis’ to be empowered economically


The Purim African Youth Development Platform (PAYDP), a non-governmental organization, with funding support from the UNFPA is currently implementing a project for female head porters (Kayayei) in selected urban markets in three regions.
The project, which would serve as a model to facilitate existing initiatives and works by the various state institutions such as the Gender Ministry, Ghana Health Service, and the National Board for small Scale Industries (NBSSI), would provide integrated legal literacy, livelihood skills training and Adolescent Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) and Services for female head porters (Kayayei) in selected urban markets in three regions.
Mrs Aku Xoenam Kevi, the Executive Director of PAYDEP Ghana, at an inception meeting in Accra on Friday, said the initiative focused on empowering vulnerable adolescent ‘Kayayei’ aged 10 to 19 years with tools to make informed decisions, improve their economic status and reduce their vulnerabilities to Gender-Based Violence (GBV) and its consequences, including forced marriages and co-habitation.
She said the objective of the project apart from providing the ‘Kayayei’ with education and training on child marriage, rape and available legal services, would provide demand driven livelihood skills to 1,000 of them, and it was expected to reach about 1,500 of ‘Kayayeis’ aged between 10 and 19 years with knowledge on SRHR by the end of December 2017.
In all a total of 2,200 Kayayei from 10 markets in communities in the Greater Accra, Ashanti and the Brong Ahafo Regions would be reached.
She said investing in girls, developing their social, and economic assets, ensuring that they had access to education and health services, as well as knowledge to postpone marriage until they were ready, was key to upholding the dignity of women.
“It also means healthier families and higher levels of gender equality. This in turn makes for stronger societies and more vibrant economies,” she said.
Mrs Kevi said the expected outputs included increased knowledge on human rights among these vulnerable population, including the establishment of referral points for addressing abuses, and improved access to and use of integrated sexual and reproductive health services including contraceptives and HIV and Sexually Transmitted Infection (STI) prevention, that were gender responsive among kayayeis.
The project was also expected to improve networking among beneficiaries of Child Marriage interventions, and ensure the establishment of a ‘Kayayei’ Coalition to increase advocacy on issues affecting them.
She called on all stakeholders to support the cause by working together in building upon existing interventions and enhancing advocacy to effect policy changes.
Mr Mohammed Salifu, the President of the Kayayei Association, although welcomed the initiative, expressed his displeasure about the level of engagement in terms of recognition by the various state institutions including the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection.
He said although the Association was much closer to the people, and had valuable information that could effect positive changes, they were often sidelined, and wanted to be involved in especially the building of an authentic data base on kayayeis in the country for effective development.

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