Accra, October 24, 2014 – The 69th United Nations Day has been marked in Ghana at a lively flag raising ceremony at the forecourt of the State House in Accra. This year’s global celebration was themed “Global Citizenship and Youth” and was celebrated nationally under the theme “Youth Engagement for Effective Nation-Building”. The ceremony was graced by Mr. Girmay Haile, Country Director of UNAIDS, representing the UN Resident Coordinator a.i., and Hon. Mahama Ayariga representing the Government of Ghana. In attendance were dignitaries from private and public-sector institutions, members of the diplomatic corps and representatives from the various agencies of the United Nations system in Ghana.
Unlike previous flag-raising ceremonies when speeches were delivered and the UN and Ghana flags were both hoisted amidst military display, this year’s event was spiced up with a beautiful performance by students from the Accra Girls High School. The cultural performance by the all-girls group depicted the challenges some communities face due to poor maternal health and the declining trend of girls’ enrollment from Elementary to Senior High school. These two areas have been selected by the UN Country Team for a pilot One UN advocacy initiative to draw public attention to the lost opportunity countries face when girls drop out of school and the challenges women face due to inadequate maternal health. The performance by the students clearly demonstrated the importance the UN is giving to culture as a relevant factor in the equation of tackling and resolving development issues.
In a statement, Mr. Ayariga commended the United Nations’ tireless efforts around the globe and reiterated the government’s commitment to achieving the Millennium Development Goals. Dwelling on the local theme of Youth Engagement for Effective Nation-Building, Mr. Haile noted that “This theme seeks to leverage the emerging active grassroots participation of the youth in politics in Ghana. Since effective youth engagement needs to be inclusive”, the focus of the UN in Ghana on the need to empower girls and young women, who are particularly a vulnerable segment of the population cannot be over emphasized.
For the United Nations family, the UN Day did not end with the hoisting of the flags. Supported by the UN Resident Coordinator’s Office and organized by the UN Communication Group, the UN system took the opportunity of the commemoration of the UN Day to launch its Joint One UN Advocacy campaign on Girls’ Education and Maternal Health. The campaign on Girls’ Education has as its key message “empowering girls for effective nation-building” and that on maternal Health has “no woman should die giving life”. Both campaigns seek to engage the media to highlight the challenges of achieving good maternal health and encouraging girls’ enrollment at the secondary level of education.
Stake holders were urged to “put their money where their mouth is” and put measures in place to curb maternal mortality and talk more improve girls’ education.