World Vision Ghana (WVG) says government’s flagship programme, Free Senior High School policy, is a great investment in ending child marriage in the country.
“If the Free SHS is embraced as a national programme and properly implemented without politics, it would contribute significantly to ending child marriage and promote girl-child education.”
Speaking at a two-day validation workshop on the Economic Impact of child marriages in Koforidua, Mr Gregory Dery, the Child Protection and Advocacy Manager of WVG, explained that one major cause of child marriage was poverty, where parents failed to cater for the educational needs of their children.
The workshop was organized by the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection, in partnership with WVG to engage stakeholders and selected media houses on the effects and benefits of ending child marriage.
It was on the theme: “Validation of National Budget to End Child Marriage – Operational Plan and Budget Advocacy.”
Nr Dery explained that research indicates the Free SHS Policy could help reduce child marriages by six per cent and also improve girls’ educational attainments, as lots of them would be able to complete SHS and progress.
Mr Dery said child marriage increased fertility and population growth by 26 per cent and this put a burden on social amenities as well as endangered the health of girls and their babies.
Poverty and irresponsible parenting, especially on the part of fathers, contributed to girls dropping out of school, cutting short their educational advancement and participating in hazardous work to make a living, he said.
Ms Freda Prempeh, the Deputy Minister of Gender, Children and Social Protection, said money and huge budget would not end child marriage until the root cause of parental neglect and irresponsibility was tackled holistically.
She said most parents and guardians, for their own interests and gains, forced their girl-children into marriage and warned that with the Free SHS parents had no excuse but to send their girl children to school.
Ms Prempeh said the UN estimated that 37,000 girls under 18-years got married each day around the globe and described it as a worrying trend that must engage the attention of civil society groups.