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Girls Not Brides (GNB) Ghana, a National network of Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) into eradicating child marriage, has renewed its call for protection of girls amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

The call was made at GNB fourth Annual General Meeting in Cape Coast to review the activities of the past year and to deliberate on some documents that would help guide the daily operations of the network.

The documents include the constitution, financial policy, and administrative manual and the network’s strategic plan, which will give direction for the year 2021 and beyond.

It brought together 47 members, representing its coordinating team of 47 organizations from across the 16 administrative regions of Ghana.

In her opening address, Mrs. Gertrude Eunice Maasodong, National Chairperson of the GNB Ghana, said COVID- 19 with its associated consequences was detrimental to the progress made in reducing child marriages in Ghana.

The AGM deliberated on innovative strategies to keep girls out of early or forced marriages in Ghana, especially during the global pandemic.

Counting some successes, Mrs Maasodong said following the outbreak of the pandemic, a COVID-19 response project was launched which engaged Communities, the media and stakeholders on how best Government’s efforts would be complemented to ensure the safety of all, especially girls.

As part of the activities of the project, donations were made in selected communities across the three administrative zones of the GNB Ghana, where food items and Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) were distributed.

“We could not undertake major projects because of the virus, particularly because of the initial ‘stay at home’ directive and the physical social distancing as well as lack of funding to support in trying times, but we still did very well in our communities,” she noted.

On challenges apart from COVID-19, she said stakeholder engagements in Communities were difficult because of the misconception that NGOs were rich organizations and the perception prevented capable people from supporting them and that had greatly affected their operations.

“I will take this opportunity to call on traditional and religious leaders to support the NGOs’ efforts in your communities of operation because your cooperation is necessary to secure the brightest future for girls and to end child marriage in Ghana,” she said.

On her part, Miss Ethel Emefa Ehla, the National Secretary, called on corporate, individual and international bodies to fund the organisation’s life transforming projects for girls from deprived communities through education.

“The girls need our help now more than ever and it falls on us as GNB Ghana members to work to mitigate the consequences,” she implored.

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