Ghana on Thursday officially launched and signed an agreement with The Netherlands and UNICEF to address issues related to early child marriage.
Child marriage is a long standing phenomenon of problems that threatens not only development and prospects of the individual child but also pose serious risks to the overall development of the country.
Ms Susan Ngongi, UNICEF Representative said an estimated number of 32,000 girls in Ghana are married annually before they turn 15 years with Ashanti, Western, Volta, Eastern and Northern regions taking the lead.
Ms Ngongi said comparing results from the two most recent Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey shows a national increase in early marriage before 15 years from 4.4 per cent in 2006 to 5.8 in 2011, while marriage under 18 years has increased with a national average from 25.9 in 2006 to 27.0 in 2011.
She said it therefore important for all especially communities, civil societies, to rally around for girls to live and enjoy their childhood and not to be forced into marriages.
Ms Ngongi affirmed that UNICEF through its four distinct strategies and the Kingdom of The Netherlands would support to end child marriage in Ghana.
Ms Lilianne Ploumen, Dutch Minister of Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation said it is not a good idea that girl Childs are asked to abandon education and get married at a tender age.
Ms Ploumen said the project needs a lot of time and resources to be accomplished successfully thus, the Dutch government is offering €6 million to Ghana, to help attain the aim of the project.
“Every girl has the right to say no or yes. It is up to her to say no and no one else to decide on what she wants to say,” she added.
Ms Ploumen added that girls in Ghana should be empowered to focus on education and activities that will equip them.
Nana Oye Lithur, Minister of Gender, Children and Social Protection thanked The Netherlands Government and UNICEF for the support they have shown to Ghana to fight child marriage.
She said women need to be empowered because they are the engine of growth in Ghana’s economy.
She said the rate of child marriage in the country is high and the help from The Dutch government would go a long way to aid in reducing the rate.
Nana Oye said the Ministry is going to support the head porters by endowing them economically so they would be able to contribute their quota to the development of the country.
“When we are able to economically empower our girls, we will actually transition to a middle income economy and also help boost trade between your country and our country”, she added.
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