Mr Sarah Adwoa Safo, Minister of Gender, Children and Social Protection, has said that the promotion of good sexual and reproductive health and rights was a critical prerequisite for human development, particularly for adolescent girls.
She said sexual and gender-based violence was a major factor undermining the health, dignity, security and autonomy of victims, who are mostly women and girls.
As a result, she said Government had prioritized the improvements in the health status of adolescents and children through various interventions.
She said, “government through the Ministry has initiated various interventions to ensure that adolescents grow up attaining their full potential and contribute meaningfully to national development.”
Mrs Safo said this at the National Gender Equality Clinic organized by the Ministry through its Department of Gender [DoG] with support from the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) on Friday, in Accra.
She said the Clinic seeks to engage adolescents on issues of gender equality, sexual and gender-based violence, sexual and reproductive health rights and provide them with the requisite information on life skills, including career development.
It is also aimed at bringing change in the gender equality narrative by involving males and creating a network of adolescents to debunk gender equality myths.
She said adolescence was the transitional period between childhood and adulthood with specific health and developmental needs and rights, and during this period, adolescents were at risk of substance use and abuse; unsafe sex, teenage pregnancy, and teenage parenting; school underachievement, failure, dropout and delinquency, crime, and violence.
“In Ghana, adolescent girls are most vulnerable to harmful traditional and cultural practices, sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) of all forms and unwanted pregnancies. “
Available statistics indicated that in 2019, 14, 920 cases including rape, defilement, incest, and compulsory marriage were reported to the Domestic Violence and Victim Support Unit (DOVVSU) of the Ghana Police Service.
The sector Minister said the District Health Information Management system (DHIMS) of the Ghana Health Service (GHS) recorded astounding numbers of adolescent pregnancy cases in 2020 with 2,865 girls between 10 and 14 years and 107,023 girls between 15 and 19.
A regional breakdown of this report across the country indicates that Ashanti, Eastern and Central regions recorded cases of 17,802, 10,865, and 10,301 respectively.
“In 2020, adolescent pregnancy saw a sharp rise with thirteen (13) teenage pregnancies recorded every hour in Ghana. This change was attributed to the impact of Covid-19 pandemic. This revelation is indeed alarming and needs immediate attention.”
Mrs Safo said it was time to help the adolescents develop their knowledge and skills, learn to manage emotions and relationships and acquire attributes and abilities necessary to enjoy their adolescent years and assume adult roles.
“It is an opportune time to inculcate the values of an equal society where males and females are seen as partners in development, as well as empower them to make informed choices about their lives.”
She urged adolescent parents, to take responsibility and take advantage of the natural connection they have with their children to correct, direct, discipline and advise them in love towards attaining their full potential.
Ms Faustina Acheampong, Head, DoG, said the programme which brought together more than 100 youth from all the regions were part of Ghana’s effort towards the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), particularly goal 5, which urged state actors to achieve gender equality and empower women and girls by 2030.
She said women and girls constituted more than half of the world’s population yet, they were regularly discriminated against.
However, it was necessary for society to acknowledge that the potential for growth and prosperity could be achieved when women and girls were empowered and afforded equal opportunities as men and boys.