The Country Director of Plan International Ghana has revealed that about 12 million girls are forced into early marriages annually across the globe.
Solomon Tesfamariam says many of them die during pregnancies and childbirth.
He is worried the weak value chain linkages will not help ensure girls and young women are free from all forms of gender-based violence if all partners do not show their full commitment in this fight.
Mr Tesfamariam made this disclosure during the opening of the 2019 national Girls Camp organised at GNAT Hall in Nungua in Accra.
The week-long event, aimed at empowering the participants as well as ensuring gender equality brought together more than 100 girls from the regions in the north, Ashanti, Eastern and Greater Accra Regions.
The 2019 Girls Camp an initiative that allowed the girls to interact among themselves and to share ideas was organised under the auspices of the Girls Advocacy Alliance (GAA) project.
The project is being implemented jointly by the Plan International, Defence for Children International and the Ghana NGO Coalition on the Rights of the Child, with funding from the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
According to the Country Director, Plan International aims for a just world that advances children’s rights and equality for girls.
“We do it through engaging people, communities as well as partnering organisations to make vital changes that tackled the root causes of violations against girls and their development,” he said.
He added that about 63 million girls worldwide who were not in school, pointing out that the number was about two to three times higher than that of boys who were not in school.
The Minister of Gender, Children and Social Protection (MOGCSP), Cynthia Morrison, called for increased leadership opportunities for women in the country.
According to her, although women were naturally good managers, many women were not considered when it comes to the decision-making process in most homes and societies in the country.
She said women must be given equal right to lead as men, saying “Girls have equal rights as boys to lead.”
Mrs Morrison said it was about time girls were given the needed skills and competencies to enable them to become responsible adults in future so as to help contribute their quota to the development of the country.
The GAA Project Manager, Anna Nabere, said the purpose of the GAA is to reduce child marriage, sexual violence and abuse, commercial sexual exploitation of girls as well as to create advocacy to ensure many girls had access to technical and vocational education.
Emmanuella Chagmado, 15 testified that “my friends have sex with boys and always laugh at me that I am still a virgin. I have learnt here that there is no advantage in having sex at this age. No more room for bad friends.”
Present at the opening of the 2019 Girls Camp were representatives from the Ghana Education Service (GES), Actionaid Ghana, UNICEF, World Vision, Oxfam, traditional leaders (market queens) and Gender centre for empowering development (GenCED).