First Lady launches state of the girl’s report
The First Lady, Mrs Lordina Mahama on Friday launched the Plan International’s annual State of the World’s Girls report 2013 in Accra.
The report dubbed: “In Double Jeopardy: Adolescent Girls and Disasters”, noted that girls had particular needs for protection, healthcare and education, which were not being met, or even recognised by governments and humanitarian agencies.
Speaking at the launch, Mrs Mahama said the occasion provided an important avenue for public discussions, debates and awareness of the social, economic and political effects of disasters on girls and children.
She said the celebration of international days like the day of the girl child should not be mere celebrations, declaring that, “we must give meaning to them like Plan International is doing, such as embarking on rewarding and life changing campaigns.”
“I am happy to be associated with the launch of the 2013 report because Plan International intends to support the education of as many as four million girls across the world.
“Others will be supported to acquire skills to enable them to move out of poverty,” she said.
The First Lady said: “Even without disasters, I have seen at first-hand how the future of some young girls and children had been truncated because of the poor state and living conditions of their families”.
She said poverty could not create a good environment for any growing child, adding that, it is worse when a growing adolescent girl is caught up in a natural disaster or war.
She said through her organization, the Lordina Foundation, she had been working with children especially the unfortunate ones who have been admitted into orphanages.
“These are the most important period of a child. It is most unfortunate for children to find themselves in such an environment without the care and love of a natural parent. We can make a difference in the lives of girls and children generally. They need our love, our support and encouragement,” she said.
“We can work to avoid adolescent girls getting into double jeopardy”, Mrs Mahama said, adding that, girls in particular should not be treated differently or segregated because of their gender, but on the expectations of how they fulfilled their assigned duties or responsibilities.
“Gender-based discrimination is often deeply rooted in social and cultural attitudes and norms. Girls face particular and acute challenges, which are different from that of women, men and boys.
“Adolescent girls by their physiological make up are vulnerable and need all the protection to keep them safe from abuse and all acts of violence. That way, they can continue their education even in disasters and emergency situations,” she said.
The First Lady said the government has realigned the mandate of the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection to ensure that girls were adequately protected.
“If girls are empowered to participate in decision-making, in the life of their communities and in economic, civil and political life, everyone stands to benefit.
“We must be drivers of change to promote and protect girl’s rights,” she said.
Mr Prem Shukla, Country Director of Plan Ghana, said the report is the official record of Plan’s flagship programme: “Because I Am A Girl” campaign in all of Plan’s offices across the world.
He announced that in the next two years, the organization would award 1,500 scholarships to students with 60 per cent going to girls, with an overall goal of equipping and empowering girls of all ages to acquire assets, skills and knowledge necessary to succeed in life.