The Centre for the Promotion of Democratic Governance (CENPRODEG), an NGO operating in the Upper West Region has appealed to stakeholders to intensify the fight against child marriages in the region to keep children, especially the girls in school.
Mrs Edith Naaza, Project Officer of CENPRODEG made the appeal on Friday in Wa during a regional advocacy forum on promoting equal rights and opportunities for girls and young women, especially in rural communities in the Upper West Region.
The forum brought together some traditional leaders, Queen Mothers, officials from the Department of Children, the Department of Gender and Social Welfare amongst others to deliberate on the best practices, which will help bring child marriages to a complete end.
Mrs Naaza said despite the various campaigns and advocacy programmes on child marriages, child neglect and abuses, the problem still existed and stressed the need for a sustained and collective effort to curb the problem.
She said CENPRODEG in partnership with the Defense for Children International (DCI), Ghana, was working in four thematic areas, which included child marriages, sexual violence, community sex exploitation and access to TVET and employment opportunities all aimed at addressing pertinent problems associated with the girl-child.
She said, the NGO had been instrumental in shaping and undertaking various community programmes, which had gained grass root support through social mobilisation, capacity building, advocacy and promoting the rights of the child as well as the woman.
Mrs Nazaa indicated that in line with the NGO’s commitment to promote gender equality and social inclusion, CENPRODEG with support from DCI- Ghana, had been implementing the ‘Girl Advocacy Alliance’ project initiative.
She explained that the project sought to increase prevention actions by girls, their families’ traditional leaders, and religious leaders to end the practices of child marriage and other negative social and cultural practices that affected the education, health and development of the child in the region.
Madam Matilda Chere, the Upper West Regional Director of the Department of Children expressed worry about record dances in rural Senior High Schools at odd hours often referred to as “Bomper to bomber”, which was a profane dance leading to illicit sex and called for an end to such dances.
Some of the participants advised the youth not to be envious of each other, stop the habit of over ambition and live lives worth emulating for a better future while others attributed the rural problems to pride and the unwillingness to embark on moral education.