International Day of the Girl Child celebrated in Bolgatanga

By Godfred A. Polkuu, GNA

Oct. 13, GNA – The International Day of the Girl Child has been celebrated in
Bolgatanga, the Upper East Regional capital with a call for greater investments
to improve girls’ education, skills and job prospects in Ghana.

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 18 years 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 18 years.

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.