Resolve challenges that set-back Ghana’s effort towards achieving SDGs – UNICEF

Accra- Miss Anne-Claire Dufay, a representative of the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), has advised government to deal with issues that could setback Ghana’s efforts towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

She said until women and children were liberated from poverty and injustice, all the goals such as promoting peace and security, would stand in jeopardy.

Miss Dufay, who is also the Acting UN Co-ordinator for Ghana, said this at the opening of a two-day Summit organised by the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection (MOGCSP) with the support of UNICEF, World Bank, World Food Programme, UNFPA, Canadian Government and International Organisation for Migration.

The maiden summit on the theme: Promoting social inclusion: leave no one behind, would serve as a platform for stakeholders to review and suggest ways towards a more equitable protection for Ghanaians.

She noted that the 2017-2018 multiple indicator cluster survey revealed some worrying trends, including teenage pregnancies, which if not addressed quickly, could setback Ghana’s efforts towards achieving Sustainable Development Goals and threaten future progress.

Miss Dufay expressed discontent about the situation where 19 percent of women aged between 20 and 24 were married before 18 years.

I interacted with many adolescent girls in Accra who became pregnant before 16 years, they had to drop-out of school and sell bread or vegetables at the market. This must stop because girls deserve better and Ghana deserves better, she added.

Experience showed that educated and empowered girls significantly contributed to society and the economy, she observed.

She said a programme implemented to prevent teenage pregnancy and child marriage confirmed that it was not only about girls’ education but the men, mostly between 20 and 30 years who fathered their children must be made aware of their roles and responsibilities.

The Acting UN Co-ordinator said there were too many cases of child neglect where fathers left their wives and children by not supporting their living expenses, stressing that attitude must change in protecting girls, children and women.

The UNICEF representative commended the Ministry for jointly introducing the Ghanaians against Child Abuse and called on all to join the movement to ensure a safe and protective environment for children and save the next generations from experiencing it.

She encouraged the registration of children at birth as it was their basic rights to identity and protection from exploitation and trafficking.

Discrimination, especially against children with special needs, must be tackled seriously, she stated, and said they should be assured of equal rights by ensuring they had 100 percent enrollment and at the right age.

She promised UNICEF’s support to the Ministry in tackling the situations at the orphanages and witches’ camps, adding that there was the need to challenge certain traditional beliefs and practices that were detrimental to the growth of the nation.

As we commemorate the 30th anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, Ghana can renew its commitment to ensuring a more equitable environment for all children and their families, particularly, the vulnerable as it also met the SDGs, she added.

Miss Sarah Nicholls, Minister Counselor Development and Head of Cooperation Canadian High Commission, said though Ghana had made progress in SDG five, there still persisted some inequalities.

She said Canada and its partners would continue to work with the Ministry to provide advice and gender analysis.

In attendance were Madam Frema Osei Opare, Chief of staff, Madam Cythia Mamle Morrison, the MOGCSP Minister, representatives from Ministries, Departments and Agencies, Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies, among others.

Source: Ghana News Agency