Sissala East Municipal Chief Executive, Mr. Karim Nanyua has called on stakeholders in the Upper West Region to denounce forced marriage including teenage pregnancy to allow young girls receive better education for holistic development.
He said promoting empowerment of the girl child to overcome their challenges and also meet their needs in life could only be attained when their fundamental human rights were adequately protected and their education secured.
He made the call during the Campaign for Female Education Association (CAMA-Ghana) meeting to observe the 2018 International Day of the Girl Child in Tumu.
The Day, which falls on October 11 each year, was marked on the theme: “Educating child marriage and teenage pregnancy, time to press for change is now”.
Several stakeholders from the Ghana Education Service, Traditional Leaders, and Department of Gender of the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection, media, students, parents and guardians took part in the celebration.
Mr Nanyua said the introduction of the free Senior High School and the Ghana School Feeding Programme policies provided an opportunity for every Ghanaian child to be in school.
But if leaders do not put measures to curb pervasive adolescent marriage and teenage pregnancy, girls would not benefit from the policies meant to improve lives, he said.
Ghana, especially in the northern parts, the girl child faces many problems relating to early marriage and elopement, abject poverty and teenage pregnancies, which violated their fundamental human right.
According to the Domestic Violence and Victim Support Unit (DOVVSU) of the Ghana Police Service in Wa, the Ghana Education Service in Wa East District, set 14 pregnant teenage girls forced into marriage free last week.
Mr Nanyua quoted some statistics from the Ghana Demographic Survey Report that says Upper West was the second highest in the country when it came to child marriage, recording 39 per cent.
“It is time to fight against it in the Region,” Mr Nanyua said: “Some parents are intentionally forcing their children into marriage in order to release their burden of taking care of them”.
Early and forced marriage is reported to be more rampant in rural Upper West as compared to the vibrant towns where economic activities boom and the level of education is also higher.
The MCE told the Ghana News Agency in an interview that by-laws would be implemented by the end of 2018 to ensure better education and development of the girl child in the Municipal area.
He advised the youth and parents to change their attitudes towards the antiquated culture, else any measures instituted by the Assembly to curb the phenomenon would be in vain.
The Upper West Regional Director of Department of Gender, Madam Charity Batuure, noted that the girl child needed education as the number one priority to be functionally successful in life.
“We do not have cocoa farms in our environment [Upper West] and our cocoa is the education, which every child should put much effort in order to be useful in our communities…” she said.
She also called on the state, parents and other stakeholders to join the fight against child and forced marriage in order to pave way for total development of the Ghanaian girl.