Child marriage has been cited as one of the major factors that lead to school dropouts in most communities in the Upper East Region, especially in the Bongo and Kassena-Nankana Municipal and Kassena-Nankana West Districts.

Mr Godwin Made, District Director of the National Commission for Civic Education (NCCE) in charge of the Kassena-Nankana Municipal, who disclosed this during the launch of Peer Educators clubs in Navrongo, noted that such negative cultural practices impeded the development of the Region.

He said Ghana had one of the highest child marriage prevalence rates in the world and on the average, one out of four girls were usually married before their 18th birthday with the Northern, Upper East and Upper West Regions being among the leading regions in the country.

The programme was on the theme: “Stop Child Early and Forced Marriages Now”.

To help overcome the problem, Our Lady of Mercy Community Services, an NGO with support from STAR-Ghana is implementing a project dubbed “Creating awareness on sexual reproductive health rights, child and forced marriages through youth initiatives and community action” in some selected communities in the Kassena-Nankana Municipal and West District.

The Municipal Director stated that research by conducted by the UNDP on the World fertility policies in 2011 showed that in 2010, 277,000 women aged 20-24 were married before the age 18years and noted that If present trends continued, 407,000 of the young girls born between 2005 and 2010 would be married before age 18 by 2030.

This, Mr Made stressed, would negate Ghana’s efforts at making impact in the attainment of the Sustainable Development Goals in the promotion of basic education, fight against poverty, the prevention of HIV/AIDS and reduction in maternal and infant mortality rate if pragmatic measures were not taken to address the situation now.

He commended Our Lady of Mercy Community Services for collaborating with the NCCE in targeting schools and communities to sensitize them on the negative effects of early and forced marriages as well as empowering key stakeholders to enforce existing legislation to fight the problem.

“Child marriage does not only affect the girl-child education but is also against the fundamental human rights as well as affect the physical, health and psychological state of the girl-child. Ending child marriage requires strategies for girls’ empowerment, social and cultural norms change, legal reform, and policy action,” he stressed.

The NCCE Officer stated that it was not only the constitution of Ghana that was against child and early marriages, but the international laws including Convention on the Elimination on All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) and The 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Launching the project at Navrongo in the Kassena-Nankana Municipal, the Project Director of Our Lady of Mercy Community Services, an NGO, Mr Emmanuel Atiiga, explained that the training of the peer clubs was among one of the strategies his outfit had taken to fulfil the main project theme.

The Project Director said to ensure sustainability and effective monitoring of the clubs; his outfit was working in collaboration with the NCCE in both the KassenaNankana Municipal and Kassena-Nankana West District.

He stated that the project was being supported by the counselling centres established by the NGO in the three locations; namely Navrongo, Paga and Sirigu to offer counselling services to the adolescents and their parents.
GNA/Newsghana.com.gh

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