Accra, Dec. 05, GNA – A cohort of 500 Kayayei (female head porters), have been empowered under the United Nation Population Fund’s (UNFPA), ‘Kayayei Assistance Project’ (KASPRO), to lessen their vulnerability and position them towards self-development.
The beneficiaries, who were selected from the Tema Station area in Accra, were provided with education on Sexual and Reproductive Health Right (SRHR); Sexual and Gender-Based Violence (SGBV); Vocational training in business and entrepreneurial skills, as well as health care support including regular food supplies, essential items to maintain personal hygiene.
Under the six-month Project, which started in June, 2020, and the beneficiaries also received mentorship and business advisory training from the National Entrepreneurship and Innovation Programme and Skills Training, and free National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) registration, for their health and wellbeing, and as an entry point for SRHR education.
Mr Niyi Ojuolape, the UNFPA Country Representative, at a Kayayei Expo held in Accra on Friday, to celebrate the skills and knowledge acquired by the beneficiaries by virtue of the CASPRO, and also mark the end of the Project, , thanked all the partners involved in the success achieved, particularly Prudential Life Insurance Ghana, which provided the funding.
He said “this Expo has been organised to show you the benefits we can reap when we make the right investments into the lives of the people of Ghana,” and said the KASPRO, was designed to demonstrate workable approaches in response to the needs of the vulnerable, especially during pandemics such as COVID-19.
Mr Ojuolape said the Kayayei group mattered so much because they formed one of Ghana’s most vulnerable populations, explaining that these women and girls mostly migrated from rural communities in Northern Ghana to urban centres in search for greener pastures, and because often had no shelter, they slept in the open with no protection.
He said they were often faced with the threat of rape, harassment, theft, murder, amidst other human rights abuses, which often went unreported, and that accessing healthcare was difficult for most of them due to their meagre income.
The COVID-19, he said had aggravated the unfortunate realities of this vulnerable group, and now more than ever, they needed sustained help, adding “we can all bear witness to the fact that the pandemic has negatively influenced various aspects of our lives. Be it socially, politically, economically, we have all borne the brunt of the effects in one way or the other”.
“For the Kayayei, we can only imagine what the pandemic means for their livelihoods, welfare and that of their families,” he said.
Ms Frances Ofori, the Head of Marketing and Communication, Prudential Life Insurance Ghana, said her outfit funded the Project with 35,000 dollars as part of its Corporate Social Responsibility, and expressed her satisfaction with its successful outcome.
She urged the beneficiaries to make good use of the knowledge and empowered skills acquired, to enhance their lives and that of their families.
There were solidarity messages from development partners including the World Health Organisation, UNICEF, UN Habitat and the National Health Insurance Authority, all of who commended the UNFPA for the initiative, saying the empowerment would help these women and girls to make informed life choices.
Again the nutritional education provided would help prevent wastage and improve the health of their children, explaining about 90 per cent of the Kayayei were either nursing mothers or single parents.
Ms Claudia Lumor, the UNFPA Ghana’s Ambassador, said the current efforts by the UN Agency, was therefore in fulfilment of its vision of ensuring “a world where every pregnancy is wanted, every child birth is safe and every young person’s potential is fulfilled,” and stated that the support would yield much dividend for both Ghana and globally.
Dr Agnes Ntibanyurwa, the UNFPA’s Deputy Country Representative, presented some awards to eight of the beneficiaries for their show of resilience and uniqueness throughout the course period, and thanked all the partners for their support, but encouraged their continuous partnership as key to the success of achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.