The North East Region has the highest incidence of child marriage. The current prevalence of child marriages in the region is 13 percent, as against the national average of 4 percent. According to the 2021 Population and Housing Census (PHC), the total number of married females aged between 12 and 17 stands at 5,350. Of these, 5,140 are married now, while 210 have been married before.
In the Northern Region, the prevalence stands at 11 percent. A total of 14,250 females are married. Of these, 13,910 are married now, while 340 have been married before. In the Savannah region, there are a total of 4,190 married girls aged between 12 and 17 years. 3,970 are married now, while 220 have been married before, leaving the prevalence at 11 percent.
In the Upper East Region, the prevalence of child marriage stands at 7 percent. According to the data, a total of 5,640 girls are married. 5,500 are currently married while 140 have been married before.
Meanwhile, from 2000 to 2021, there has been a 2.36 percent decline in child marriage.
This came to light when Edem Agbe, the Managing Director for Participatory Development Associates (PDA), addressed participants at the 7th Knowledge Sharing Workshop (KSW) held in Walewale, North East Region.
Themed “Tackling Child Marriage in Northern Ghana: A Shift from Rhetorics to Evidence-Based Advocacy,” the workshop delved into the complex factors surrounding child marriage, focusing on the drivers of the phenomenon and examining the socio-cultural practices and beliefs that contribute to its persistence in the region.
The workshop brought together a diverse array of stakeholders, including traditional leaders, policymakers, government officials, development partners, pupils, and parents. The gathering provided a platform for open and constructive discussions on the challenges posed by child marriage and will explore evidence-based approaches to advocacy for its eradication.
The KSW was organized by Participatory Development Associates (PDA), in partnership with Afrikids Ghana, the Department of Children, and A1 Radio, a subsidiary of the Agreed Best Communication Company.
Mr. Agbe expressed grave concerns about the alarming trend where family systems, expected to protect children and preserve their futures and dignity, particularly those of girls, are instead involved in assaulting development workers striving to combat child marriages.
Mr. Agbe also spoke to the recent cyberexploitation of young girls. He mentioned that while the explosion of the internet and access to digital tools remains helpful to development, it remains largely a space where young girls are being taken advantage of.
Linda Marfoh, Director of Operations for AfriKids, was worried about the rate of progress in dealing with child marriages.
“In many parts of Ghana, early marriage continues to be a complex and pervasive issue. Even though statistics show that we have made some progress globally, this progress is unequal and at the rate we are going, there is no way we can achieve our goal as a country to end child marriage by 2030,” she said.
Some participants at the KSW, obviously worried about the situation, called for concerted efforts from stakeholders to help address the issue.
“My heart is heavy after watching the video depicting child marriages in these areas. Why? We have done a lot. The irony is that, after all we do, we become the enemies of the community. Something is missing. The Bible says, ‘Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he grows, he won’t depart from it.’ Using Kunkwa as an example, and considering the radio discussion, how many of them actually listen to the radio? We need to take these videos to the communities and help them understand the situation.”
Rev. David Tibila of the Straight Way Assemblies of God Kunkwa made these comments at the 7th Annual Knowledge Sharing Workshop on Child Protection, organized by PDA, AfriKids, and the Department of Children.
Source: A1Radioonline.Com|101.1MHZ|Mark Kwasi Ahumah Smith|Bolgatanga