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Child Marriage Reduces Marginally

A Somali policeman, Mohamed Nuur, and his bride Nawaal Abdi walk after their wedding ceremony in Hodan district of the capital Mogadishu May 14, 2012. Al Qaeda-affiliated al Shabaab rebels, who once controlled the district before being driven off by AMISOM troops, had banned social gatherings in the district. REUTERS/Feisal Omar (SOMALIA - Tags: SOCIETY) - RTR32225

The number of women aged between 20 and 24 who were married before 18 slightly decreased from 21 to 19 percent between 2014 and 2018.

However, the percentage of women aged 20-24 who were married before 15 remains at five percent.

In Ghana, one in five girls aged 20-24 years was married before 18, partly due to behavioural and social norms.
The report, therefore, called for more community engagement, which it said was critical to reducing child marriage and other harmful practices in the country.

This was contained in a four-year multi-country evaluation report of community engagement to end child marriage (CM) in Ghana as part of a strategy to end CM and female genital mutilation (FGM) in Ghana, Guinea, Mali, Niger, and Nigeria.

It was made known by a Child Protection Specialist of UNICEF Ghana, Ms. Joyce Odame, at a two-day review and planning exercise (RPE) in Accra.

The review meeting, which brought together relevant stakeholders from government agencies and non-governmental organisations (NGOs), looked at the progress made against set priorities and milestones for 2021 and the way forward.
There were presentations by the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection, the Office of the Head of Local Government Service (OHLGS), the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development, the Ghana Police Service, the Births and Deaths Registry, the Judicial Service, the Ghana Education Service, the Ministry of Education, among others.

Situation
The Caretaker Minister of Gender, Children and Social Protection, Ms. Cecilia Abena Dapaah, said the situation of children had improved over the years with the strengthening of child protection systems through a behavioural change campaign platform where Ghanaians against child abuse had reached 1,002,026 people.

“Protecting children and enhancing their rights requires multi-sectoral interventions to achieve the desired result and maximise resources,” she said.
The minister expressed appreciation for the rollout of integrated social services in selected districts in the country, saying it was through such collaborations that the National Development Planning Commission (NPDC) incorporated child protection indicators into the 2022-2024 national development medium-term plan which would be used by all sectors to bring child protection issues to the fore.

Financial commitment
A Child Protection, Strategic Planning and Monitoring Expert of UNICEF Ghana, Mr. Rafiq Khan, said child protection required effective collaboration and coordination across the health, educational, law enforcement, justice, and social welfare sectors.

For the sustainability of UNICEF and the government’s child protection programmes, he said, many programme outcomes had been institutionalised and enshrined in laws, policies, or practices.
According to him, the government was increasingly taking ownership of programmes, adding that metropolitan, municipal and district assemblies were including child protection-related actions in their medium-term development plans.

Mr. Khan, however, called for greater financial commitment to ensure that policy-level achievements were translated into outcomes for children.

Source: Graphic Online

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