The Gender Centre at the Ghana Institute of Management and Public Administration (GIMPA) has organized a forum to sensitise community members at Nobi, a suburb of New Tafo in the Eastern Region, on teenage pregnancy.
The Forum on the theme; "Strengthening Family And Community Links Towards Youth Education And Stewardship For Sustainable Development," sought to engage community members in efforts to help eradicate teenage pregnancy and its effects on the child, family and society.
Dr Beatrice Akua Sakyiwah, Head of the Gender Centre at GIMPA, said research showed that children between the ages of nine to 15 were getting pregnant at a very alarming rate, especially in rural communities.
She said the high rate of teenage pregnancy was worrying, especially when the criminal offence of defilement was being overlooked, noting that "defilement by either forced or consented means is a crime."
She said there were laws to deal with perpetrators and urged parents not to settle defilement cases at home but to report such incidences to child protection agencies or the police.
Dr Sakyiwah called on parents to step up their responsibilities to children to ensure proper transitioning to responsible teenagers and adults.
She advised parents to support their pregnant teenage daughters after delivery to enable them to continue with their education to acquire skills and knowledge to enhance their lives.
Mrs Ama Boateng, Programmes Officer at the Department of Gender in the Eastern Region, said the family is the most important unit of society and if rightly positioned, could offer the needed social protection for people.
She said some parents were obsessed with their jobs and neglected their parental duties, resulting in their children becoming wayward and indulging in social vices.
She said the family was not just about parents but persons living in society and entreated all to take interest in children's wellbeing for a better society.
She advised the youth to also make use of good opportunities when it crossed their path to help eradicate poverty and hardship.
Madam Mamata Al, the representative from Abuakwa North Municipality, who spoke on behalf of Ms Gifty Twum Ampofo, Member of Parliament for the area, commended the Gender Sector at GIMPA for the regional discussion to educate citizens, especially girls, on child pregnancy.
She said to curb child pregnancy and enhancing youth advancement within the municipality, Abuakwa North had initiated a 'School For Life' programme to improve reading among children and support the youth in trade.
She disclosed that about 150 youth in the municipality had benefitted from the initiative so far and pledged commitment on behalf of the MP to engage more of the youth to help eradicate youth idleness and enhance livelihoods.
Ms Hannah Annan, a young woman who gave birth at the age of 13, said giving birth at a young age was very difficult and urged young girls to focus on education, a vital key in sustainable development, rather than sex.
She appealed to parents to provide the needs of their children, especially the girl child to guarantee them a bright future.
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