Governments have been urged to prioritise issues concerning girls in their development efforts to ensure they are granted the opportunities needed to stay safe and contribute to national growth.
Ms Princess Keteku, a second-year General Arts Student of the Kpando Senior High School in the Volta Region, said this when she took over from Mr Alfred Dzikunoo, the Acting Manager of Southern Programme, Influencing and Impact Area (SPIIA) of Plan International Ghana, as part of the activities marking this year’s International Day of the Girl Child.
It was under a ‘Take over Event’ on the theme: “Girls Get Equal Freedom Online.”
She said Plan International Ghana had laid a firm foundation for the future prospects of the youth, especially girls, through its well-tailored support programmes.
Ms Keteku said adolescent girls faced various challenges in society due to their age, gender, ethic background, sexual identity, religious affiliation, and income, among other things, therefore conscious efforts must be made to ensure their safety.
She said the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development outlined 17 development goals, which talked about achieving gender equality and empowering all women and girls, therefore measures must be put in place to achieve those goals.
She said the theme; “Freedom online” with hashtag “free to be online” was the second phase of activities Plan International Ghana was conducting to sensitise the girls to be conscious about issues on their safety and freedom online and campaign to increase girls’ access to the internet.
Ms Keteku described the theme as apt as countries the world over were moving from traditional ways of conducting business to a digitised or online system, evidenced currently in the wake of the Covid-19.
She said though online systems played a crucial role, including learning, in the lives of individuals and society, it came with equally growing risks occasioned by the drive for increased online access due to the pandemic.
She said there had been an increase in access to the internet amongst the youth in Ghana, especially due to the usage of virtual or online platforms for homework-related research, among other things.
“However, this access is limited when it comes to girls’ access,” she said, and called for measures to address the situation to ensure equal access.
Ms Keteku mentioned cyberbullying and sextortion as one of the serious risks girls faced online saying the act had become pervasive and asked that mechanisms were developed to curtail it.
“It is important to point out that these troubling issues are just dangerous and need to be taken seriously by stakeholders in order to prevent or reduce those occurrences from happening,” she added.
Mr Archibald Yao Letsa, the Volta Regional Minister, said society and the state as a whole should create a conducive environment for the girl-child to achieve her highest potential and commended Plan International Ghana for its continuous efforts at enhancing her well-being.
Dr Letsa urged the youth to be careful on the internet and must be smart to avoid exposing themselves to danger online.
He said the government together with other stakeholders would continue to collaborate to create the right conditions and environment for the female child to develop and achieve what she could.
Madam Thywill Eyra Kpe, the Volta Regional Director, Department of Gender, said the digital world presented an opportunity to girls to explore their talents but its proper usage paramount to ensure security.
“There are so many predators online waiting to pounce on you, but there are also opportunities out there,” she said.
She urged girls to choose the right path, go the right way and explore the right signs to achieve greater heights in life.