Madam Charity Batuure, the Upper West Regional Director of the Department of Gender has called on stakeholders to pool their efforts and resources towards building a solid foundation for young girls in the country.
“The development of our communities, region and country will only be possible if we build a solid foundation for our young girls who will take up from us when we are weak,” she said.
Madam Batuure made the call during an engagement with traditional leaders on ending child marriage in Wa East and Wa West Districts of the Upper West Region.
“The young girl will one day become a mother and will have the responsibility of catering for children and also building a home -this among others make it very important for us to focus on their growth so that they will become good future leaders and not liabilities on society,” she said.
The Regional Director of the Department of Gender noted that as traditional authorities, they have a role to play in securing a descent future for the girl child and encouraged them and others not to shirk their responsibilities in that direction.
Madam Batuure pointed out that the engagement, which was being sponsored by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) was for them to fashion out strategies on promoting equal opportunities for the girl child, while also addressing all forms of discrimination and harmful cultural practices against them.
She noted that key among the discussion was on the issue of ending child marriage, pointing out that according to statistics, one out of every five girls aged between 20-24 years were married before the age of 18.
She said the Upper West Region was currently at 13.5 per cent in terms of child marriage, adding that even though that was a slight decline from the previous rate, more efforts such as strengthening the existing strategies and adding new ones were necessary to further reduce it to the barest minimum and secure the future of their girls.
Mr Archibald Donkor Junior, the Upper West Regional Director of the National Youth Authority (NYA), urged parents to cherish their children, adding that no amount of poverty was enough justification for one to push the daughter into child marriage.
He expressed concern about the practice where children still loiter around the streets of Wa at late night, saying the development was impacting negatively on the education of children in the Municipality and must be checked.
Mr Prosper Bayuo, Programme Head, Child Rights Promotion and Protection, Department of Social Welfare, noted that great traditional values, which required one to be fully mature before marriage had been abandoned, the result of which was the child marriage being witnessed today.
On teenage pregnancy, he said even though they frowned on it, it should not prevent any girl from acquiring education, noting that it was the reason why today systems were being put in place to support girls who unfortunately fell victim to child marriage to enable them continue their education without any discrimination.