Prioritizing the rights and well-being of adolescent girls in Ghana will contribute to the sustainable development of the country.


30 November 2021
A group of girls

A new statistical report published by UNICEF today (30th November) underscores the need for concerted and sustained investment in the rights and well-being of adolescent girls in Ghana, as this would significantly contribute to the country’s overall progress toward the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

The study entitled ‘Protecting and empowering adolescent girls in Ghana’ outlines how early pregnancy, violence, and excessive household chores thwart the opportunities of many girls aged between 10 and 19 years, particularly the most vulnerable and marginalized. This trend has worsened as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Since becoming the first country to ratify the Convention on the Rights of the Child in 1990, Ghana has made significant progress toward realizing the rights of adolescent girls. Governments have invested in proactive measures to develop and implement several legal and institutional frameworks to promote the empowerment of adolescent girls. However, the data outlined in the new report reveal that more efforts are required to fully address the particular challenges that girls face and to strengthen their contribution to their own lives and those of others.

Some of the highlights within the report include:

· One in ten adolescent girls had sex before the age of 15, compared to one in 14 adolescent boys. Yet only a minority of the girls have their contraceptive needs met.

· Almost all adolescent girls are exposed to psychological aggression and nearly one in 5 experience severe physical punishment.

· Adolescent girls are at heightened risk of physical, psychological and sexual violence, with 22 per cent having suffered sexual abuse in the past 12 months.

· Early pregnancies increase the risk of maternal mortality, a leading cause of death among adolescent girls.

· One in six pregnant adolescent girls registered for antenatal care with the Ghana Health service in 2020 was from the Ashanti region,

· Adolescent girls spent more time doing household chores than boys, and the disparities increase as they get older.


The new publication also revealed that babies of adolescent mothers are at an increased risk of lower birth weight, pre-term delivery and severe neonatal conditions, malnutrition, and stunting in early childhood. Many adolescent mothers may be forced to enter child marriage, which increases their risk of violence, and may interrupt or curtail their learning. Marriage may also be viewed by some families as protecting girls from the social stigma that may result from having survived a rape or sexual assault that led to an ‘undesired’ and ‘shameful’ pregnancy.

To see significant improvement in the lives of the three million adolescent girls in Ghana, UNICEF outlined clear measures within the publication.

For example, there should be an increase in the scale and reach of programmes and opportunities that would increase girls’ access to skills and information in the spheres of financial literacy and employability soft skills. It would also enable marginalized girls to make free, informed, and positive decisions and life choices.

Girls should also be encouraged to stay in, or resume, their schooling if they had originally left because of child marriage or pregnancy.

A more protective and gender-equitable environment should be created at family and community level, where harmful and gender-discriminatory social norms are challenged through more discussions and increased awareness-raising activities.

Sectoral systems and workforce capacity should continue to be enhanced to deliver integrated and coordinated services for adolescent girls.

Finally, at both national and decentralized level within the government, the enforcement of laws and policies should be strengthened, and budget allocations should be increased to better respond to the needs of adolescent girls.

As the UNICEF Representative in Ghana, Anne-Claire Dufay, stated: “Adolescent girls have the potential to be the engines of their society. But only if they are given the opportunity. It is imperative to empower adolescent girls and prioritize their education, protection, health and well-being. This is not only to promote their fundamental rights but also to contribute to the sustainable development of the country.”

For more details, please visit to access the report and for more information on the topic.

Click this link to access photographs.

Media contacts

Eulette Ewart
Chief, Communication and Advocacy
Tel: +233244334996
E. Offeibea Baddoo
Communication Specialist
Tel: +233 24 466 3643


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