Girls born in Ghana already face many challenges put in their way largely by cultural practices and poverty, but as they reach puberty they are compelled to marry, further scuttling every opportunity for them reaching their full potential.
Girls between the ages of 12 to 17 are forced into early marriages, a profile of girls from the 2021 Population and Housing Census (PHC) in Ghana published by the Ghana Statistical Service (GSS) shows.
According to the data released in early October 2022, about 80,000 girls in Ghana aged 12 to 17 years are already married or living with a man.
The GSS published the profile to mark the10th anniversary of the International Day
of the Girl which falls today October 11, 2022.
The UN General Assembly adopted resolution 66/170 on December 19, 2011 and designated October 11 as the International Day of the Girl Child. The theme for 2022 is “Our time is now—our rights, our future.”
According to the GSS, nationally, 79,733 girls in Ghana aged 12 to 17 have been in union, that is they are married or living together with a man according to the PHC.
It notes that out of this number, 25,999 are girls of Junior High School going age (12 to 14 years). The regions with the highest percentage of girls ever in union are the North East (13.0 per cent), Savannah (10.9 per cent) and the Northern Region (10.6 per cent) all with rates more than twice the national average of four per cent.
The GSS indicates that despite free and compulsory universal basic education, almost a quarter of a million girls, some 244,731 aged 6 to 14 years have never attended school at all.
Three out of every 10 of these girls are in the Northern Region which has the highest number of girls who have never attended school some 73,516, followed by the Savannah (27,930) and North East (22,857) regions, it said.
“These three regions also have the highest percent of girls currently not attending school (never attended or attended in the past) with Savannah leading all regions with 40.2 per cent, followed by the North East Region at 29.3 per cent and the Northern Region with 28.5 per cent. The national figure is 7.8 per cent which represents 285,271 girls aged 6 to 14 years that are not attending school,” it added.
The results also show that three out of every four girls which is 75.8 per cent aged 6 to 14 years old who are not attending school are living in rural areas.
Further, it says, 99,150 girls under 15 years are engaged in economic activity with half of them, that is 49.7 per cent out of school, and half which is 49.9 per cent of girls engaged in economic activity are in the Northern Region and there are 22,647 of them, the Oti Region has 17,694 of them, and the North East Region is home to 9,153, making these regions the ones with the highest share of girls in economic activity.
Girls, and everyone deserve the rights and opportunities to be allowed to grow under healthy safe and healthy conditions so they can attain their full potential. Forcing girls into early marriages, should be discouraged, as girls allowed to grow into their full potentials are assets to their societies.
By Emmanuel K Dogbevi
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