It has been observed that investment in the social and economic asset of girls makes for stronger societies and more vibrant economies.

The Executive Director of Purim African Youth Development Platform (PAYDP), an NGO, Mrs. Aku Xornam Kevi made the observation at a maiden Project Inception Meeting in Techiman, as part of the Provision of Integrated Legal Literacy, Livelihood Skills Training and Adolescent Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights Services for Female Head Porters (Kayayei) in selected Urban Markets in Three Regions in Ghana.

The meeting forms part of the efforts to help end the canker of Child marriage in Ghana, where stakeholders deliberated on ways to initiate and sustain a project that will end child marriage and also empower female head porters in the country.

It was organized under the sponsorship of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), in partnership with PAYDP, and its local partner Centre of Posterity Interest Organization (COPIO) in Techiman.

According to the Executive Director of PAYDP, Mrs. Aku Xornam Kevi investing in girls, ensuring they have access to education and health services, and certifying that they can postpone marriage until they are ready means greater dignity for women.

She said the project which is being piloted is geographically targeting some market centres within the Ashanti, Brong Ahafo and Greater Accra regions in the country, and it is expected to benefit about 2,200 kayayei.

The PAYDP Executive Director explained that the project would equip young Kayayei from the ages of 10-19 with tools that would help them make informed decisions over their future, improve their economic status and reduce vulnerability to gender-based violence, which would be achieved through legal literacy, livelihood skills training, adolescent and sexual reproductive health education and human rights advocacy.

She disclosed that a survey by the Ghana Demographic and Health Survey (GDHS) 2014, disclosed that one out of five girls in Ghana is married before turning 18 years, while one out of three girls within the three regions of the north is married before age 18.

However, the national programme analyst on Gender at the UNFPA, Madam Selina Owusu said it behooves on government to continue teaching young girls on adolescent and sexual reproductive health and human rights because of the country’s middle income status.

Other stakeholders at the meeting included representatives from the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection (MoGCSP), Ghana Health Service (GHS), National Vocational Training Institute (NVTI), Domestic Violence and Victims Support Unit (DOVVSU) and the National Board of Small-Scale Industries (NBSSI), as well as Traditional Rulers.

On his part, Sergeant Ekow Manson of the DOVVSU indicated that as a country, Ghana has failed on issue of protection and security, because the head porters have no shelters and can hardly be identified for protection.

He suggested that provision of shelter for Kayayie should be focal on the project to help that they could be secured and protected.

According to him, DOVVSU would continue educating the kayayei on gender based violence and how they can protect themselves by speaking up and reporting on issues than prosecuting culprits.

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