A section of female adolescents in the public schools of the Ningo Prampram District have been admonished to resist the desire to enter into child marriage, either willingly or forcibly as the consequences to their lives and future plans could be dire.
They were educated on the effects of child marriage and the possibility of losing one’s live may be the ultimate price. The adolescent girls, were also educated on diverse cost effective personal hygiene, practical protections against teenage pregnancies and other negative social vices that could bring their education and future to naught.
The girls attended a “Mentorship to Empower Adolescent Girls on Sexual, Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) and Sexual, Gender Based violence (SGBV)”, jointly, organised by the Department of Gender, Accra, Ningo Prampram District Assembly (NiPDA), the Education Directorate Ningo Prampram and the Health Directorate, Ningo Prampram at the Presbyterian church auditorium, Nyigbenya.
In a speech read on behalf of the District Chief Executive of Ningo Prampram District, Ms. Araba an Assistant Director disclosed the marginal decline in teenage pregnancies and adolescent drop out of schools in the District as a result of these mentorship and empowerment programmes. She mentioned the significance of teenage pregnant girls remaining in school until delivery and even returning to school after delivery. She urged the participants to learn from this programme as well, so they can teach their colleagues who were not privileged to be present.
According to the Regional Director of the Department of Gender, Accra, madam Matilda Banfro, and Ms. Eunice Goddison, Gender Department; Ningo Prampram had been on the radar for mentorship to empower adolescent girls on Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) and Sexual, Gender Based violence (SGBV), because it is one of the four districts within the Greater Accra with high records of teenage pregnancies. She was delighted that this record is declining which is an indication that the consistent mentorship is yielding desired results.
According to madam Matilda, child marriage is a union between a girl child less than 18 years and an older man. This practice she said could cut off the child’s education or life and must therefore, be stopped to allow the girl child to attain her full potentials academically. She sternly warned the adolescents not to be desirous to enter marriage as this can result in numerous health complications as well as death. She also advised them to politely resist force marriages arranged by their parents.
She gave out toll free numbers to be used by any adolescent seeking help from forced child marriage.
These numbers are
0800 800 800; 0800 900 900; 0800 111 222.
In a presentation, Ms. Vivian Ayongo Okpodjah from the Health Directorate educated the participants on their rights and responsibilities as adolescents. She explained that they have the rights to make free, informed choices and control over their bodies, free from discrimination, coercion and violence in one’s sexual decisions and sexual life.
They also have right s to information about sexual and reproductive health services. She advised them to visit the adolescent corner at the health facilities on any health and sexual issue including Sexually Transmitted Infections, (STI) for professional assistance. She also advised them from taking ill information from friends or neighbours who might worsen their problems.
She tasked them to be responsible and assertive to abstaining from pre-marital sex, be active in religious activities and join productive clubs and acquire vocational skills at their leisure times. The participants were also asked to avoid obscene and pornographic materials as well as not giving in to peer pressuring advices.
The Girls’ Education Officer, Ms. Felicity Mawuli Adoboe from the District Education Directorate indicated that Poverty, parental neglect, early sex, truancy, menstruation, excessive house chores and gender based violence were some of the notable barriers to girls’ education in the District.
She said, her unit is mandated to get girls in school, ensure they learn, maintain the process and protect and keep them safe from rape and bullying. She also added on to the call of sexual abstinence as the main key to preventing pregnancy. The participants were admonished to be responsible for their sexual and reproductive health and live as children once they were still under their parent’s protection.
There were almost a hundred (100) adolescents from seven (7) different basic schools, officials from the Greater Accra Gender Department, officers from the Ningo Prampram District Assembly, Education and Health Directorates.