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Local leadership shows the way to change early marriage in Ghana

Local leadership shows the way to change early marriage in Ghana

Her Majesty Queen Mathilde of Belgium was in Ghana this February at the invitation of President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo. A lunch held in her honour was attended by the First Lady Rebecca Akufo-Addo, the Minister for Gender Children and Social Protection, Otiko Afisa Djaba and UNICEF Representative in Ghana Anne Claire Dufay. A highlight of her visit was her engagement with traditional leaders who are supporting their communities to prevent young girls from child and or forced marriages.  The traditional leaders – who include Queen Mothers, Nana Atta Kastir, and Nana Ankwoanda Ahwer– are using approaches such as laws, community dialogue, drama and awareness-raising of the dangers of child marriage to prevent child marriage. Over lunch with the Queen, the traditional leaders shared how they are raising awareness in their communities, on the negative impact of child marriage.

In Ghana, despite child marriage being illegal, one out of every five girls is married before the age of 18.  Poverty, teenage pregnancy, lack of educational and livelihood opportunities, as well as social and cultural norms reinforcing gender inequality are the reasons cited for its persistence.

As Honorary President of UNICEF in Belgium, and a United Nations Advocate for the Sustainable Development Goals, Queen Mathilde was delighted to learn how various actors were working together to stop the practice.

Young Charity Hansen, who had a child when she was 16 and had to live with her 17 year old boyfriend, joined the event. She shared her story with the Queen and emphasized how the support of the leadership in her community helped her return to school. 

Queen Mathilde, moved by Charity’s story said “Thank you very much for your courage to share your story with us."

UNICEF Representative in Ghana, Anne Claire Dufay said, “It is critical to end the practice of child marriage through changing attitudes within families and communities, and expanding opportunities for girls’ education.” 

As part of the UN Country Team, UNICEF is committed to work with all partners, including Ministries and Community leaders, to ensure that girls are protected from child marriage and that no girl stays out of school.





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