The Electoral Commission (EC) Chairperson has described as “embarrassing” the rate at which girls of school going age are married off by their parents, mostly to older men.
Mrs. Charlotte Osei said the rising statistics about the issue demonstrates the country went to sleep after being the first sovereign nation in Africa to rectify the International Convention on the Right of the Child.
She was speaking on a special edition of Joy FM’s Super Morning Show which was hosted by Samira Bawumia, wife of Vice-President, Mahamudu Bawumia, and featured former Deputy Finance Minister Mona Quartey, Lawyer, Clara Beeri Kasser-Tee, Madam Joyce Aryee, Senior Director-in-Charge of Government Relations at Newmont Africa, Ama Sarpong Bawuah.
The Convention, spearheaded by the United Nations (UN), is a human rights treaty which sets out the civil, political, economic, social, health and cultural rights of children. It was adopted on November 20, 1989.
The EC boss said child marriages in the country is not a function of culture, but rather poverty and lack of education.
According to UNICEF’s 2015 report, one in four women in Ghana married before the age of 18, representing 27 percent of the population.
It said the issue has increased nationwide from 25.9 percent in 2006 to 27 percent in 2011.
Available statistics show the menace has been increasing in three regions of the country – Upper East with 39.2 percent, Western Region with 36.7 percent and Upper West Region with 36.3 percent.
Mrs Osei who is the first woman to head Ghana’s elections governing body said the only way to stem the tide of the menace would be to adopt a holistic approach.
“It means that the solution must come from all of us,” she said, adding educated women in privileged positions in the country must join the fight.
“We need to support our sisters to make them empowered…we can show some concern and be the change that we want to see,” she said.
She disclosed some of the parents who give their children in marriage are sometimes in dire financial straits needing less than GHC50 to survive.
Mrs Osei said the country can no longer depend on the government and police to solve the problem.
“Get involved, talk to the woman who sells roasted plantain…by opening our hearts to care a little, things will change,” she said.
She entreated educated women in the country to be role models to empower girls who have come out of early marriage.
“We need to start engaging the people who are serving us everyday. We need to get engaged in their own lives,” she charged women.
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