The Department of Gender, Greater Accra Region, in collaboration with the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and the Canadian Government has organized a day’s sensitization programme for 70 adolescent girls in Mobole in the Ningo-Prampram District.
The programme was to reorient and educate the girls on their Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR), and Sexual and Gender-Based Violence (SGBV).
Madam Matilda Banfro, the Greater Accra Regional Director of the Department of Gender said the workshop also aimed at empowering them to curb the high teenage pregnancy rate and SGBV in the Ningo-Prampram District.
Madam Banfro said young girls must be properly educated on the benefits of abstaining from early sex to themselves, the community and the nation.
She said that period was a time of transition, when girls questioned and formed their own identities, adding that at this stage, girls often begin to deal with the gender roles of adult femininity, which could be confusing and restricting for many of them.
She added that the adolescent period also had specific health and developmental needs and rights, noting that it was a time to develop knowledge and skills, learn to manage emotions and relationships, and acquire attributes and abilities that would be important for enjoying the adolescent years and assuming adult roles.
Girls’ empowerment she said was of critical relevance as it was the way to accelerated development, as most women and girls were denied their rights in the development agenda.
Mrs Vivia A. Okpodjah the Principal Nurse Officer at Public Health said, “according to the 2010 Population and Housing Census, there are more adolescent and youth in Ghana accounting for 8 million, that is 31.8 percent of the total population.”
She said many of the young people were at risk or already struggling with the consequences of an unplanned pregnancy or a sexually transmitted infection (STI).
Mrs Okpodjah said to minimize the risk and secure a healthy future for adolescents, policymakers, journalists, service providers, and advocates needed to liaise with other stakeholders to help create awareness.
Mrs Juliana Abbeyquaye, the Eastern Regional Director of the Department of Gender, described SGBV as any harmful act perpetrated against a person’s will and was based on socially ascribed differences between males and females.
Mrs Abbeyquaye said threats of verbal, sexual, and physical violence that occur in or out of schools and educational settings because of gender norms and unequal power dynamics between genders formed part of SGBV.
She said it could also be in the form of physical assault, trafficking, slavery, emotional abuse humiliation, confinement, and economic discrimination, as well as forced marriage and denial of education.