The Upper West Regional Director of the Department of Children, Madam Latifa Abobo Siddique, has called for an intensified education on violence and discrimination against girls and children to eliminate issues that undermine the development of the society.
She said research conducted by the Social Initiative for Literacy and Development Programme (SILDEP) in 2016 showed that 14 per cent of girls in the region were still victims of sexual abuse.
She noted that empowering the girl-child through education and other career-defining training were key to eliminating the incidence of discrimination and abuse of girls.
Madam Abobo, who said this at the opening of a five-day Girls’ Camp in Wa, urged children and girls in particular to take advantage of formal education, as well as the many structures within modern society to wean themselves from the challenges that occasioned violence and abuse against them.
Some 100 girls from the Sissala East, Sissala West and Wa West districts from last Tuesday went through a five-day Girls’ Camp at the Wa Senior High and Technical School.
The Girls’ Camp, initiated by SILDEP, a local non-governmental organisation (NGO), is a platform used to train young women in leadership skills and to encourage them to overcome the common challenges of their surroundings.
The Girls’ Camp forms part of the activities of Girls Advocacy Alliance, a project instituted by SILDEP in the Upper West Region since 2016, to help build the capacity of girls to champion their own lives.
The selected participants are expected to return to their various girls’ clubs to transfer their knowledge and skills to their colleagues in their respective schools and districts.
The Deputy Minister for the Upper West Region, Mr Amidu Chinnia Issahaku, addressing the girls, said despite the strides made by Ghanaian women in economic and social lives, they remained the victims of sexual violence and abuse because many of them “lack the economic and social status to resist or avoid it”.
“Adolescents and young women in particular experience abuses in the form of violence, rape and sexual assault and sexual exploitation at home, school and in the workplace,” he said.
Social protection strategies
He said the Upper West Regional Coordinating Council had instructed the various district assemblies in its jurisdiction “to include social protection strategies in their medium-term development plan and the annual action plan” as a measure to resolve some of the challenges confronting women.
Mr Moses Dramani Luri
The Chief Executive of SILDEP, said: “The Upper West Region has a great number of children and women whose rights are violated” as a result of some negative cultural practices.
“These result in early marriages, teenage pregnancies, high rate of school drop-outs among girls and migration of these girls to the southern parts of the country to serve as head porters,” he said.
“The net effect is poor academic performance, high rate of illiteracy, poverty and disease,” he added.
He called on traditional rulers, opinion leaders and society at large to commit themselves to the effort to end violence and abuse against women and girls.
The Upper West Project Unit Manager of Plan International Ghana, Mr Eric Ayaba, said the Girls’ Camp project was in line with the vision of his outfit for which reason they partnered SILDEP in its implementation.