The International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) looks at the needs of populations particularly vulnerable populations such as women and children. It is a conference that has been organized, I think the first one was in Cairo in 1994 there about.

Since then, every two years, there is a conference that gathers politicians, technical people, faith-based organizations and business people to see how political will and those who have resources can put their strength together to ensure that there is zero unmet needs for family planning information and services and every woman, every man everywhere who needs family health care, family planning health services will get it including information.

It is also a forum that brings political leaders, business people, faith-based organizations together to ensure that there is zero maternal deaths. This is very critical and we believe that when we are able to combine political will and resources, we can reduce this to the minimum and then it is also to reduce or bring to zero sexual and gender-based violence as well as harmful practices against women and girls.

We all know how some of our traditional practices are abuses in serious violence against women and girls and so at the International Conference like this, when some of the stories are told in the presence of political leaders, businessmen and volunteers as well as evidence of persons who have suffered these violence, abuse that it becomes a rallying point for support to reduce all these practices against women and girls.

Now, I have been sponsored by the European Parliamentary Forum (EPF) to be part of this conference. I have been privileged in the past to be working with them and we, there is an organization known as the Global Parliamentary Forum specifically for …. and rights. I am a board member of this parliamentary forum and our main focus is to pool our intellectual and political power to see how we can harness this with resources to reduce all the practices that we consider are abuses against women and girls.

We know that when we don’t talk about this, nothing will be done, we know that when we don’t talk about this, we don’t highlight this, vulnerable groups in our population will continue to suffer. There is no reason why a woman should die giving birth to a child … there is no reason and so we have to eliminate, not reduce maternal mortality. There shouldn’t be any reason why a woman should die giving birth, there shouldn’t be any reason why a woman or a girl should have pregnancy that she doesn’t want to have…there is no reason. If that girl, that woman had information, she will have been well educated not to pick this pregnancy in the first place because when you don’t want the pregnancy, you will not want the child ….and so we trying to harness international support particularly, we know that in the West African sub-region, we have a lot of issues because of our low levels of education and lack of access to family planning and services and so this is a meeting where I will be making a presentation on how politicians particularly, parliamentarians can galvanize their skills in drafting regulations, making policy statements and influencing governments to support the course.

How has Ghana fared regarding family planning?

We have not done very badly but we need a lot more to be done. Information to young women and men about the use of contraception is quite low; for example in 2014, married females (15-19) using modern contraceptives is only 17%, this cannot continue. Married women (15-19) who want to use contraception but have no access was 51% in 2014.

What is the missing link?

The missing link is education, is availability. Education because both husband and wife must make up their mind that they need the services and so if the woman thinks this is what she needs, she must be educated enough and strong, empowered enough to tell the husband that I think that we have a need for family planning services and certainly a husband who is enlightened in that manner will also encourage the wife to seek family planning. Induced abortions among females in the same 2014 was 17% which is quite huge. This must be reduced because the rate is high.

What next after the forum?

Government itself will be represented in this International Conference, the Ghana Population Council will be part of the meeting as we go into this conference to share ideas, also listen to other countries their experiences, the strategies they evolve to be able to deal with such situations we learn and as we come home, we have a lot of faith-based organizations involved in the provision of sexual and reproductive health services. Papers we make, presentations we make in parliament, which we hope will be picked up by the media will enhance our communication with the people. We are also hoping that through this conference, we will have a critical look at our budget and see how much has been put in the area of sexual and reproductive health and we will see whether what has been put there is quite good enough to be able to do the work we intend to do to achieve particularly zero maternal deaths.

How to stop abuses against women and girls

We can do a lot and that is highlighting the issues and the things that are done in the closed in the open. Now with internet facilities, radio and tv, with rural electrification a of communities are becoming enlightened and it is through this that we can empower our women to be able to stand on their feet and determine what is good for themselves. In most of our societies, women eat the least and they eat last yet we are all aware that they do the hard work


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