The Planned Parenthood Association of Ghana (PPAG), an advocacy Non-governmental Organisation says child marriage threatens women empowerment and national development.
Ms Fatima Ayamga, the Field Officer, PPAG, said child marriage in many cases denied young people particularly girls the opportunity to realise their dreams academically, socially, and economically which affected their growth and development.
She underscored the need to address it collectively and sustainably.
She said this at Doringo, in the Bolgatanga Municipality of the Upper East Region at the re-launch of a child marriage campaign project dubbed “end child marriage” by PPAG with funding from the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA).
The project seeks to engage community leaders and members including traditional authorities, opinion leaders, and parents among others to play crucial roles to ending child menace and promote sustainable development.
Apart from sensitising the community members on the adverse effects of child marriage to their development, the campaign involved hoisting of a flag in the community to ensure that when a child marriage incident occurs, the flag was lowered to attract the attention of stakeholders to investigate and act.
Ms Ayamba explained that apart from the health complications that the child might go through during pregnancy and birth, the act created poverty as girls could not attain formal education or venture into other viable economic ventures.
She therefore called on all stakeholders including the chiefs and Queenmothers to lead the campaign against the menace to ensure that it was brought under control to achieve sustainable development.
“Traditional leaders have roles to play in enforcing laws on child marriage in their communities, so they must lead the advocacy and rally the people to end the act for girls to also have a future,” she said.
Ms Rosemary Akolbire, the Bolgatanga Municipal Adolescent Coordinator, said statistics from the directorate revealed that adolescents formed part of the maternal deaths that were recorded, because of pregnancy related complications.
She said parents needed to pay attention to their children particularly girls and counsel them to prevent them from getting pregnant and forced to marry, “child marriage has been a big issue in this Municipality especially this area and we must work to end the act”.
Ms Akolbire who is also a Public Health Nurse, advised parents not to force their children into early marriage, but support them.
Alhaji Issah Akolgo, an Elder at Doringo Community, said the days where parents gave their children out for marriage at early ages were over in the community, but the girls pushed themselves into the marriage because of materials things.
He said teenage pregnancy and child marriage was a worry to stakeholders in the community as the future of children especially girls were threatened.
He pledged to join the campaign to educate parents in the community to play their parental role responsibly to ensure that they instilled discipline in their children to avoid pregnancy and child marriage.
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