The day, which is celebrated globally on October 11 every year, was observed in Ghana on the theme, “Leveraging the support of traditional and religious leaders to assist parents to marry their girl child at the right age of 18years and above.”
Mr Hussein Rahman, the Northern Zonal Coordinator of the Girl Not Brides (GNB) partnership, who made the call stressed on the importance to create opportunities and safe spaces for girls’ voices to be heard in decisions that affect them.
He said, “more attention needs to be given to girls’ education to provide job-relevant skills and training to enable them to participate in the workforce and to move from dreaming to achieving a better future.”
Mr Rahman, who is also the Executive Director of the Youth Development and Voice Initiative –Ghana (YOVI-Ghana) said poverty was the predominant factor of child marriages, particularly in the Upper East, Upper West, Northern, Savanna and North East Regions where girls from poor families were more likely to become child brides than those from wealthier homes.
“If we really want to tackle poverty and end child marriages, we must give all girls the tools they need to invest in themselves. That means, providing them with the quality education and the training they need to earn an income and create a better future for themselves and their family,” he noted.
According to Mr Rahman, 12 million girls were married globally every year before the age of 18, which deprived them of their rights to education and health among others.
About 19 per cent of girls in Ghana get married before 18years.
He said evidence showed that girls who attended Senior High School were three times less likely to be child brides, adding that they had better economic prospects, fewer and healthier children, and were more likely to ensure that their own children were not married before 18years.
Madam Rachel Yates, the Interim Executive Director of the GNB, said the global partnership, which comprises over 1300 Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) investing in efforts to end child marriages was not just the right thing to do, “It’s also smart economics.”
She said “Ending child marriage has to be a critical part of creating a ‘GirlForce’ of empowered girls who are able to reach their full potential whilst ensuring we meet our global development goals.”
As part of activities to mark the day, GNB, Ghana Partnership in collaboration with the Wuni Zaligu Development Association (WUZDA-Ghana), the YOVI- Ghana, the Songtaba, and the Centre for Initiative Against Human Trafficking (CIAHT) earlier undertook radio discussions on the subject in Tamale, Northern Region.
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