The Paramount Chief of the Sagnarigu Traditional Area in the Northern Region, Naa Yakubu Abdulai, has called on all his divisional chiefs and elders to support the fight against teenage pregnancy which often leads to child marriage.
Accordingly, he has directed all his divisional chiefs to spread the message to all nooks and crannies in the Sagnarigu Traditional Area so that residents especially parents would get the directive.
Naa Yakubu Abdulai made this clarion call when change agents under the Girls Advocacy Alliance (GAA) project in the Sagnarigu District held an engagement meeting with him in the regular Friday sitting of his Traditional Council at his palace in Sagnarigu.
The change agents were selected by Songtaba under the GAA project from among traditional and faith leaders as well as ‘magazias’ (women leaders) in the area to support the advocacy agenda under the project.
In attendance were Palace Technocrats, Elders, Traditional Priests, Assembly Members of the area, staff of Plan International Ghana and Songtaba.
The GAA project is a 5-year project that seeks to achieve equal rights and opportunities for girls and young women. It is being implemented by Songtaba in 4 Districts including Songtaba with support from Plan International Ghana.
Aside the Northern Region where GAA is being rolled out in 40 communities across all four districts, other partner organisations of Plan International Ghana are also implementing the same project in the Upper West and Eastern Regions of Ghana.
The GAA project centres on some five thematic areas; child marriage, sexual violence and abuse, commercial sexual exploitation of children and child sex tourism as well as access to Technical, Vocational Education Training (TVET) and decent employment opportunities for girls and young women.
By the end of the 5 years, the project would have reduced child marriage and sexual abuse of girls and young women.
Besides, girls and young women would have increased access to TVET and to decent work opportunities.
An Islamic scholar and change agent under the project in the Sagnarigu District, Sheik Ilyas Umar, implored the Paramount Chief and his elders to really support Plan International Ghana and Songtaba in the fight against child marriage and commercial sexual exploitation of young girls in Sagnarigu and for that matter, Northern Region.
He observed that, child marriage in the North was increasingly being influenced by teenage pregnancy, and called for collaboration and support from the Paramount Chief of Sagnarigu in the fight against the menace as it was ruining the education and economic advancement of girls in the region.
Naa Yakubu Abdulai also observed that, the increasing trend of child marriage was caused by westernisation and globalisation, saying “Customs of Dagbon already frowns upon teenage pregnancy”.
He further argued that, the surge in child marriage and teenage pregnancy could not be entirely blamed on poverty.
Meanwhile, a recent survey conducted by Songtaba in five districts revealed that, girls as young as 13 years are being given out for marriage whereas in some cases, they are betrothed to men at birth and given out for marriage as soon as they have their first menses.