Accra, Ghana; 7 February 2018 – The UN Secretary-General’s Envoy on Youth, Jayathma Wickramanayake, visited the Agblogboshie Market in Accra shortly after arriving in Ghana. Her visit to the market was to meet with Kayayei, head porters, mostly girls. The Kayayei are dispersed across various cities and markets in Ghana, and their primary occupation is to carry goods for people from the point of purchase out of the market. It is hard, physical and demanding work, but the resilient teenage girls have come together in a community to support one another.
The Kayayei are predominantly teenage girls. The nature of work and environment of their occupation put them at considerable risk. In particularly, services and information hardly reach them, particularly on sexual and reproductive health. They are susceptible to gender-based violence, rape and, with little information on health issues and access to family planning commodities, they are likely to have unplanned pregnancies.
Despite these challenges, the Kayayei have bonded in an association and through a local organisation – PAYDP and the support of UNFPA and other partners – are building a resilient community. The girls who work as porters for shoppers at the crowded Agblogboshie Market have built a day-care centre for their children that provides a safe space for their children whilst they work. In addition to this, the Kayayei also receive capacity building and as a result, they also run other income generating activities, including jewelry making.
Speaking after walking and dancing around the market with the Kayayei, the Youth Envoy said “I am deeply touched with all that I have seen here today, and I promise that in all my interventions, in all the places I am able to speak, that I would highlight the plight of young women and girls [like you] everywhere I go”.
The Director of the centre, Mr. Ibrahim thanked the Envoy for her presence, which he noted as inspiring to the girls and by extension the people of Ghana. He also acknowledged UNFPA for their unrelenting support of the centre by providing comprehensive sexuality education and family planning services at a dedicated service centre for the girls at Agblogboshie Market. He recommended that it would be beneficial to scale up this support as there were more vulnerable young girls and women to reach out to.