Accra – the United Nations in conjunction with the Ghana National Union of Queen mothers recognized and celebrated the first ever day dedicated to the welfare of the girl child.
The event was commemorated in Accra as part of a global effort to promote the rights of the girl child and to bring awareness to the discrimination and abuse she faces across the world.
The Deputy Minister of Women and Children’s Affairs, Hon. Hawawu Boya Gariba thanked the United Nations General Assembly for the establishment of a Day to focus attention on the girl child. She explained the repercussions of early marriage and noted that continuous discrimination would not be beneficial in achieving the MDGs, specifically Goals 4, 5, & 6.
The UNFPA Representative in Ghana, Dr. Bernard Coquelin, explained that Africa and Asia have the highest rate of child marriages before the girl reaches her 18th birthday. He said available statistics indicate that Ghana has one of the highest child marriage prevalence rates in the world. The percentages by region are as follows: “The Upper East region (39.2%), Western region (37.7%), Upper West (36.3%), Central (31.2%) and ≥ 27% in the Ashanti, Volta, Brong Ahafo, Northern and Eastern regions. Mr. Coquelin further confirmed, that in regard to educational attainment, “47% of young women with no education were married before the age of 18”.
The Guest of Honour, Her Royal Highness Lady Julia Osei Tutu, who is the wife of the King of the Ashanti, addressed the audience and appealed to parents to give girls an equal opportunity in life by sending “all our children to school and allowing them to attain an education”. According to Lady Julia, “Good education + health + a caring and supportive environment = a rich potential and opportunity for young girls.”
Lady Julia is expected to champion the cause of the girl child.