UNICEF and KOICA join efforts to address adolescent girls challenges

Accra, UNICEF-Ghana and the Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA) on Wednesday signed a partnership agreement that aims to address existing inequalities facing adolescent girls in the country.

Reports indicate that there are 7.8 million adolescents in the country, but girls in particular, face many setbacks as they grow into adulthood with most of them dropping out of school, getting pregnant, and being forced into early marriages.

UNICEF and KOICA decided to initiate A Better Life for Girls in Ghana project which seeks to address existing issues of gender stereotypes and social norms that disproportionally impact the development of girls between the ages of 12 to 19.

The three-year agreement spanning 2017 to 2020 involves a 5.2 million dollars fund being provided by KOICA while UNICEF would be developing and implementing the strategy within selected districts in the Volta and Northern Regions.

At a signing ceremony in Accra, Ms Susan Ngongi, Country Representative of UNICEF-Ghana and Mr Woochan Chang, Country Director for KOICA, both initialled the agreement for their respective organisations.

The ceremony was witnessed by Mr Sungsoo Kim, the Korean Ambassador and other officials of UNICEF.

Mr Chang said the Better Life for girls in Ghana project forms part of KOICA’s global campaign which seeks to provide quality education and strengthen health services for the most vulnerable girls in 15 countries around the world.

He said the project would help support girls to stay in school and realise their full potentials as they acquire vocational and entrepreneurial skills.

I wish to assure that both UNICEF and KOICA will continue to actively participate and collaborate with the Government of Ghana for this project.

The hope is that this project will contribute to the successful implementation of the National Strategic Framework on Ending Child Marriage in Ghana, which would be launched next week, Mr Chang noted.

Ms Ngongi said UNICEF decided to partner KOICA to address the issue of adolescent girls because many of the programmes being run in the country have been focusing on children below five leaving the adolescents to their fate.

She said the condition has created a situation where parity had been achieved at the primary school level but at the secondary level, few girls could be found in the school with many boys going through the higher academic ladder.

Girls suffer more in the adolescent age with most of them not transitioning to secondary schools. We also do not want to create a situation where the girls would be left out. It’s a right issue, we need to pull all of them together, Ms Ngongi said.

She said after the signing, a nationwide multiple indicator cluster survey would be carried out to collect data that would serve as a basis for the implementation of the project.

That would also serve as evidence to help guide policy at the national level.

She said girls, especially at the Junior High School level within the two project areas would be monitored, mentored and encouraged to stay in school and move on to acquire higher academic laurels.

Mr Kim said the main aim of the collaboration was to help reduce the worrying trend of child marriages in Ghana.

We expect to improve the life of our adolescent girls by keeping them in school as well as broadening their horizon on entrepreneurial opportunities and financial literacy, he said.

He said the project would also highlight advocacy and awareness to maximize the synergy of efforts in empowering adolescent girls.

Most importantly, it will also place great resources with respect to the generation of quality data as evidence to make an informed policy at the national level so that the fruits of this project can be enjoyed nationwide, Mr Kim said.

Source: Ghana News Agency