Abuses, including sexual harassment from stepfathers and older boys and domestic violence are some of the challenges that adolescent girls have to contend with in the Kpone Katamanso municipality in the Greater Accra region.
A situational analysis report based on a study conducted through focus group discussions among residents in the area have also found that some teachers in the municipality are sexually involved with female students.
Additionally, the limited knowledge on sexual and reproductive health issues among adolescent girls are other pressing issues hampering the well-being and progress of girls in the community.
These findings were made known at the launch of a Gender Transformative Programming (GTP) Turning Point project, which seeks to empower adolescent girls and a limited number of boys with knowledge in gender issues and other life skills in selected schools in the Kpone Katamanso municipality.
The project runs until 2022 and Women, Media and Change (WOMEC) is implementing it. Global Affairs Canada and Plan International under the Women’s Voice and Leadership (WVL) Ghana Project is funding it.
The Health and Education Directorates in the area and the Municipal Assembly are serving as partners in the project.
Available data shows that teenage pregnancy and school dropout rates are very high among teenagers and adolescent girls in the area.
The Turning Point project would therefore use innovative approaches to strengthen 14 gender clubs in the schools to empower the teenage girls in the formative years to make informed choices about their lives.
It would also sensitise selected senior secondary school students, especially boys to become gender champions so they can positively influence their peers to become gender sensitive.
Dr. Esther Danquah, Director of the Municipal Health Directorate, launched the project, under the theme, “building the capacity of the girl-child for national development,” during an interface meeting, attended by teachers, health workers and officials from the Ghana Health Service and Ghana Education Service. WOMEC organised the meeting to present the findings from the situational analysis report.
The report helped to identify the predominant issues in the community in relation to gender equality to help develop effective programmes to achieve the objectives of the Turning Point project and to ensure that the capacity of girls are built to help them become leaders. The report focused on thematic areas such as girl-child education, women leadership, gender-based violence, sexual and reproductive health issues and the impact COVID-19 in the Kpone Katamanso Municipality.
Findings from the report showed adolescents abuse the use of contraceptives and therefore it recommended that education on sexual and reproductive health must be intensified.
In addition, that parents need to establish a strong relationship or bond with their children to know what goes on in their lives.
The report also showed that the COVID-19 has made the situation of gender inequality worse as the rate of teenage pregnancy has increased due to the pandemic.
It has also brought all forms of hardship with the rate of crime increasing in the community.
Mrs. Millicent Ceasar, Deputy Director at the Education Directorate, urged the teachers to support the project to ensure a paradigm shift in the lives of women and to enable them get their voices heard.
By Eunice Menka