Mr James Twene, the Upper East Regional Director, Department of Gender, has urged parents to prioritise the future of their wards and play active roles to end the menace of teenage pregnancy and child marriage.
He said the rising cases of teenage pregnancy and child marriage, especially in some parts of the region continued to be a bane to the growth and development of adolescents, particularly girls, and the situation needed urgent attention from all stakeholders.
Parents, he said, were primary stakeholders in the fight against teenage pregnancy and child marriage and sexual and gender-based violence and urged them to play critical roles in educating and empowering their children to make informed decisions.
The Regional Director made the call at separate engagements with Parents Advocacy Movement (PAM), Men and Boys Clubs and out-of-school boys as part of an adolescent sexual and reproductive health project.
It is being implemented by the Upper East Regional Coordinating Council with funding support from the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA).
Six districts including Bongo, Kassena-Nankana West, Bawku West, Builsa South, Talensi and Nabdam are benefitting from the project, aimed at empowering stakeholders including parents, men and boys to join the campaign against teenage pregnancy, child marriage and Sexual and Gender-Based Violence (SGBV) in the region.
Mr Twene noted that teenage pregnancy had led to many children dropping out of school and being forced into early marriages in the region and the situation was putting financial burden on the already stressed families, communities, and the country.
He said parents needed to break the communication gap between them and their children to provide their adolescent children with the needed sexual and reproductive health education to enable them to make informed choices regarding their sexuality.
Mr Twene indicated that parents’ inability to provide the basic needs of their children such as sanitary pads also pushed them to engage in transactional sex.
“We are building the capacity of parents to understand the basic gender issues that affect adolescent girls and boys, also the need for the boys to understand the issues to grow up with them.”
Mrs Georgina Aberese-Ako, the Upper East Regional Director, Department of Children, said although the reentry policy of the Ghana Education Service was a laudable initiative, it was difficult for children who dropped out of school due to teenage pregnancy to have the mental strength to continue.
She said stakeholders needed to view the menace of teenage pregnancy as a national concern and collectively work to address issues affecting the growth and development of adolescents particularly girls, to help achieve gender parity and the Sustainable Development Goals.
She urged parents to be concerned about their adolescent children and constantly engage them to understand their challenges and help address them, to prevent them from being influenced to engage in risky sexual behaviour.