UNICEF works with partners to achieve equal rights for girls and women
Child marriage hampers the development and growth potential of adolescent girls, especially from poor families in rural Ghana. One girl out of five is married before her 18th birthday, while 12 per cent in the age group of 15-19 years start bearing children. This directly impacts their education, leading to a high number of dropouts from junior high school.
Teenage pregnancy leads to an increased maternal and child mortality rate
Another health risk to girls in Ghana from 15 to 19 years is anemia, with almost half (48 per cent) of girls suffering from it. This affects their physical and cognitive abilities and eventually their performance in school and society.
Puberty and menstruation leads to frequent absences from the classroom because most schools have limited information and almost no facilities to maintain dignified menstrual hygiene for their female students.
Another roadblock to gender equity is widespread gender violence that affects more than 40 per cent of 15-19-year-old girls. Over 40 per cent of young women (15-24 years) believe that husbands have the right to inflict punishment on their wives.
UNICEF is taking a number of measures to create a more positive and enabling environment for girls across the country as they transition from childhood into adulthood.
These include supporting the implementation of the National Strategic Framework for ending child marriage in Ghana with the engagement of multiple stakeholders and supporting the Ghana Education Service to create a safer and more conducive school environment for girls and developing guidelines for the prevention of teenage pregnancy and the re-entry of young mothers to school.
UNICEF also supports the Ghana Health Service to deliver more adolescent responsive services, and model referral mechanisms, providing a safety net (health, education and social protection services) to pregnant adolescent girls and teenage mothers and implementing and scaling-up of the Girls Iron Folate Tablet Supplementation (GIFTS) Programme, by providing nutrition education and weekly supplements of iron folic acid to adolescent girls aged 10-19 years.
In addition to this, UNICEF supports the Ghana Education Service in the continued roll-out of the basic package on menstrual hygiene management and improving facilities in schools and constructing toilets and changing rooms for girls and to deliver life-skills to adolescent girls through schools and community platforms, and using technology to deliver critical information to girls and amplify their voices in the public space.
UNICEF also supports the Department of Community Development to engage communities on key child protection issues affecting adolescent girls, in order to improve awareness and local support systems.