WUZDA Ghana, through its ‘After 24 Years Before Marriage, A24Y’ Project, has organized a public forum to discuss Ghana’s CSO sector’s contribution to the implementation of the National Policy, the ‘Strategic Framework on Ending Child Marriage’.
The forum, which is part of activities on the project, brought together players in the various sectors of Gender and Social inclusion in the northern region of Ghana.
Opening the forum, Programme Manager for WUZDA Ghana, Mr. Ziblim Abdul Karim outlined various reasons why the organization attaches so much importance to the issues of child marriage, as he called for support from all stakeholders to help for the effective implementation of the National Strategic Framework on ending Child Marriage.
According to Mr. Abdul Karim Ziblim, issues around the welfare of girls is paramount to WUZDA Ghana, which is why the organization took the step to enter into the partnership with Mundo Cooperante in Spain on ending child marriage.
He said even though the project is a pilot and will end in April this year, he is confident that the donor partner, Mundo Cooperante, would consider extending funding for the partnership to continue, as he knows the donor also attaches a lot of importance to the wellbeing of girls and has demonstrated how badly it wants child marriage to end.
Mr. Abdul Karim called for all stakeholders to put shoulders to the wheel, to ensure the nation achieves the objective of ending child marriage, through collaboration of all activities of partners, through the implementation of the national policy, the Strategic Framework on Ending Child Marriage.
He added that WUZDA Ghana sees the need to connecting all its activities to national policies and goals, hence the forum to discuss this important policy and for girl child education to be seen as very important since educating a girl, ultimately amounts to educating a whole generation.
Madam Bushira Alhassan from the Northern Region department of Gender, Children and Social Protection, who was a speaker at the forum, underscored the need for stakeholders to support the government in the implementation of the Framework.
She said even though the constitution refers to marrying off both boys and girls before the age of 18 as child marriage, girls are the most affected in terms of the numbers available to the department of Gender, Children and Social Protection.
She outlined some of the driving factors of child marriage as poverty, gender – based cultural norms, protection of family honor, girls fertility and some Ghanaian traditions and culture that seek for a girl to be married off early to prevent her from being destroyed.
Northern Regional Director of the National Commission for Civic Education, Alhaji Saani Abdul Razak intimated that the key objective for the Strategic Framework on Ending Child Marriage, which is “to empower boys and girls to be able to better prepare, to be able to prevent and respond to child marriage”, can only be achieved if boys and girls are given the needed attention in the empowerment drive.
Alhaji Saani called on girls to be uninterested in marriage, as it is one of the key drivers of the menace.
He said sometimes the girl child could through her actions, suggest to her parents that she is not interested in education but wants to be married, which then will in the end, render the efforts of the parents on her education useless.
He said the girl child must focus on her education and pay attention to the empowerment given in respect of the dangers that accompany child marriage.
This way, he said, the menace will be eliminated, by girls knowing how to prevent and better respond to it, as the first objective of the Strategic Framework on ending Child Marriage expects.
Chairperson of the forum and Executive Director for the Savannah Women Integrated Development Agency, SWIDA Ghana, Hajia Alimah Sagito Saeed admonished the girls to translate all information they get on child marriage into action and extend it to their communities, so to make those who do not know about the dangers of child marriage aware, to make them desist from engaging in it.
She called on the girl child beneficiaries at the Prison School Complex to live the example of the Child Marriage Ambassadors they have been declared to be by the project.
She called on girls in general to stay away from material things from boys and men, as they come with sentimental prices the girl may have to pay, which may end girls in child marriage.
There was representation from various stakeholders and partner organizations at the forum including Girls Not Brides – Ghana, The department of Social welfare – Sagnarigu Municipal, students and teachers from the Prisons School Complex and some parents of the ‘A24Y’ project beneficiary girls, the chieftaincy and the Islamic institutions.
Participants were divided into groups, which assessed the activities of WUZDA Ghana as against the objectives of the Strategic Framework on Ending Child Marriage, to see whether they were in tandem and if WUZDA Ghana’s activities are tied to the Framework.
Some of the participants lauded WUZDA Ghana for the initiative and called on the donor partner, Mondo Cooperante to extend the partnership for ending child marriage, to enable it expand to other areas in the region, to help in achieving some long term impact.