Ms Selina Owusu, a Gender Analyst at the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), has advised young girls to visualise their dreams and be willing to put in time, energy and sacrifices to realise them.
“Do not be distracted by unwanted interferences from focusing on the important task on working out your success in life,” she said.
Ms Owusu gave the advice in Accra on Thursday at a two-day follow-up session with ‘Kayayei’ mentees of the Chief Justice Mentorship Programme.
In 2016, the UNPFA, through the UNFPA-UNICEF Global Programme to End Child Marriage partnered with the Chief Justice’s Mentoring Programme with support from the Purim African Youth Development Platform (PAYDP).
The programme sought to provide the female head porters known as ‘kayayei’ the opportunity to build self-resilience and shape laudable career goals in life.
The follow-up session, therefore, offered the UNFPA an opportunity to interact with mentees of the Chief Justice Mentorship Programme and monitor on their progress.
Ms Owusu said the programme was to promote the rights of adolescent girls to avert child marriages and enable ‘Kayayees’ to achieve their aspirations through sound pathways.
She said the UNFPA having expanded the beneficiaries to include ‘kayayei’, each year since 2016, at least 20 girls had been selected to benefit from the programme with a total of 150 girls being beneficiaries.
The Gender Analyst said there had been success stories of ‘kayayei’ who had returned to school and had successfully completed their secondary and tertiary education.
Others have also found their feet in businesses and other career paths.
Mrs Aku Xornam Kevi, Executive Director, Purim African Youth Development Platform (PAYDP) said her Organisation with support from the UNFPA had successfully trained ‘kayayei’ from Accra, Kumasi, Assin, Techiman and some parts of the Central region in beads making, sewing, leather works with others at various levels of education.
She said the platform would keep engaging ‘kayayei’ to help them make informed decisions.
Bailawu Awudu, a former ‘Kayayoo’, from Techiman and a beneficiary of the programme, said through the programme, she had been empowered on how to defend and protect herself and others from early and false child marriage.
“Through the training, I received from UNFPA and PAYDP, I was able to report and rescue my friend from false marriage,” she said.
Ms Awudu, with funding from UNFPA, is now a dressmaker apprentice.
Sala Abudu, a former ‘Kayayoo’ who had also abandoned school, travelled from the Northern region to Accra to live and work at Tudu, a suburb of Accra, said the CJ Mentorship programme inspired her to go back to school.
She thanked UNFPA and PAYDP for the support, saying, she was now in second year at the University of Ghana, studying nursing.