Madam Selina Owusu, National Gender Analyst, United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) has commended the Volta Regional Coordinating Council (VRCC) for its efforts at addressing issues of Sexual and Gender-Based Violence (SGBV) and child marriage in the Region.
She said interventions instituted by the Council had led to some success stories regarding SGBV and child marriage in the Region, and these interventions and support by VRCC were worthy of praise.
Madam Owusu, speaking at a programme in Ho, to commemorate this year’s 16 Days of Activism against gender-based violence and launch of artwork to end child marriage, said conscious efforts had to be made to end gender-based violence and child marriage in the country.
The Analyst reiterated the Fund’s commitment in championing the end of all forms of harmful practices including child marriage and creating a system of accountability and environment to safeguard the girl-child.
The Day, she said, provided an opportunity for stakeholders to foster strategic partnerships and collaborations at all levels to accelerate actions to secure the welfare of adolescent girls.
Madam Owusu said the key drivers of child marriage were multiple and multi-faceted and were linked to various socio-economic and cultural factors such as education, teenage pregnancy, and poverty.
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), pregnancy and childbirth complications are the leading cause of death among girls aged 15-19 years globally, she noted, and called for a collaborative effort to deal with the situation.
Madam Owusu underscored the role of traditional authorities in ending child marriage and SGBV and asked that chiefs developed necessary measures to curb the menace in the areas of jurisdictions.
Your ability to leverage on your influence in the community and your power to foster social cohesion for change in your various communities, will go a long way to effect the positive change expected to improve the quality of life of these girls, she said.
Madam Thywill Eyra Kpe, Volta Regional Director Department of Gender, said the sixteen-day period gave reasons to all to campaign against gender-based violence.
She said the theme: “Orange the world: End violence against women now,” was apt and that violence in all forms and child marriage should not be tolerated.
Madam Kpe entreated religious leaders to use their platforms to speak up against child marriage and gender-based violence and should ensure that people who engaged in such acts were made to face the law.
“Let’s speak up if we see people giving out their adolescent girls who are full of potential and dreams of marriage,” she said, adding it was the duty of every citizen to protect the girl child and prevent people who killed the dreams of the country’s future leaders.
The Director said it was important to give voice, chance, and future to the girl child so she could grow and become a responsible citizen to contribute to the development of the country.
Dr Archibald Yao Letsa, Volta Regional Minister, in a speech read on his behalf said SGBV remained one of the most pervasive human rights violations across the globe and impeded the development of victims and society at large.
He said the VRCC in partnership with the UNFPA over the past few years, had rolled out some comprehensive programmes through some of its Departments to address SGBV, child marriage, and empower adolescents and young people to develop their full potentials.
Some of these programmes, he said, included training health providers to provide gender and youth friendly adolescent sexual and reproductive health services and setting up a Minimum Essential Service Package committee to provide fast track basic services to victims of SGBV.
They also set up a watch committee in some communities to protect adolescents, hold annual mentorship and empowerment camps for adolescents to empower them to be assertive and aspire for greater heights, he added.
Dr Letsa said the Council would continue to coordinate efforts to create a safe environment for all, especially women and girls to be economically and socially empowered to handle issues of SGBV, seek justice, and speak up for themselves.
The event was also used to unveil a mural art work on child marriage, which was done by the VRCC through the Department of Gender in partnership with UNFPA to help draw attention to the menace of child marriage and its impact on the girl child.
The were solidarity messages from the Department of children, Ghana AIDS Commission, and pledges from the Muslim and Christian communities and the media to help end SGBV and child marriage.
Earlier there was a float led by the Department of Gender through the principal street of Ho, holding placards with inscriptions: Toxic masculinity kills, she is someone’s daughter, no to child marriage, name and shame abusers, violence wears no gender, speak up, break the silence among others.