Accelerating our common efforts to end child marriage in Ghana
7 March 2017, Accra, Ghana
Ms. Otiko Afisah Djaba, Honourable Minister of Gender, Children and Social Protection, alongside UNFPA and UNICEF representatives today highlighted the scope and impact of child marriage in Ghana, as the Minister hosts Steering Committee Members of the Global Programme to Accelerate Action to End Child Marriage this week in Accra (5th - 9th March).
A delegation of senior representatives of the UNFPA-UNICEF Global Programme to accelerate action to end Child Marriage which includes representatives from Canada, the Netherlands, United Kingdom and the European Union, is for the first time, meeting in one the 12 countries in which the Global Programme is being implemented, to discuss practical ways to address and accelerate efforts to end child marriage.
Ghana is an ideal host country for the Steering Committee meeting because the Government of Ghana has shown clear commitment to ending child marriage and has taken a leadership role in ensuring that adolescent girls are protected from child marriage and other forms of abuse.
In Ghana one in every five women (21%) aged between 20 and 24 years old is married before the age of 18 (GDHS 2014). The three northern Regions of Ghana have the highest rates of child marriage with one in three girls being married or in union during childhood.
Evidence has shown that girls who are out of school are twice more likely to be married before they are 18 years old than those who attended secondary school or higher. Girls from rural areas are twice more likely to become child brides than those in urban areas. In all regions of Ghana the poorest girls are more likely to marry in childhood than their richer counterparts. Adolescent pregnancy - which is both a driver and consequence of child marriage - is still high particularly in rural areas with the Volta region having the highest percentage of adolescent girls and women who have begun childbearing (21 percent according to 2014 DHS).
UNICEF Ghana Representative Susan Namondo Ngongi said: “Ghana has shown great commitment to eradicating gender inequity. However the practice of child marriage while declining still affects 21% of all girls and blights many communities across the country. If we want to meet our development aspirations and also provide a more equal and fair opportunity for girls in Ghana, we have to work collectively to end child marriage. Marriage is for adults. No child should be a bride.”
UNFPA acting Representative in Ghana Erika Goldson said: “Ending child marriage requires robust strategies to empower girls' with information and services, especially in the area of sexual and reproductive health to prevent adolescent pregnancy which often is a cause or consequence of early marriages.”
Later in the week the Steering Committee visited selected UNICEF and UNFPA supported programmes in the Volta and the Greater Accra Regions to showcase examples of the work that is being done for both married and unmarried adolescent girls in Ghana.
Note to Editors
About the Joint programme: The Global Programme to Accelerate Action to End Child Marriage, which is jointly chaired by UNFPA and UNICEF, is being implemented in 12 countries: Bangladesh, Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, Ghana, India, Mozambique, Nepal, Niger, Sierra Leone, Uganda, Yemen, and Zambia. The countries were selected according to four criteria: high child marriage prevalence, large projected burden, government engagement and regional distribution.
The programme focuses on enabling girls at risk of child marriage with opportunities to choose and direct their own futures. It encourages households’ promotion of positive attitudes towards adolescent girls, and assists in strengthening systems that deliver services to adolescent girls. For more information: https://www.unicef.org/protection/57929_92681.html
UNFPA is the lead UN agency for delivering a world where every pregnancy is wanted, every childbirth is safe and every young person's potential is fulfilled. UNFPA works in over 150 countries and territories to expand the possibilities for women and young people to lead healthy and productive lives. For more information about UNFPA and its work visit: www.unfpa.org. Follow us on Twitter: https://twitter.com/UNFPAGHANA and on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ghanaunfpa
UNICEF promotes the rights and wellbeing of every child, in everything we do. Together with our partners, we work in 190 countries and territories to translate that commitment into practical action, focusing special effort on reaching the most vulnerable and excluded children, to the benefit of all children, everywhere. For more information about UNICEF and its work visit: www.unicef.org. Follow us on Facebook: www.facebook.com/unicefghana and on Twitter: www.twitter.com/unicefghana