The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) says, it is making efforts to curb the menace of child marriage through the Chief Justice Mentoring Programme.

About 150 girls benefited from the UNFPA Kayayei ‘Orange Girls’ through the Chief Justice Mentoring Programme.

The beneficiaries selected from urban markets in Accra, Techiman and Kumasi engaged in Kayayei business have gone back to school whilst others own businesses.

UNFPA said, the programme is in partnership with the Chief Justice’s Mentoring Programme with support from the Purim African Youth Development Platform (PAYDP), to provide the female head porters locally called “kayayeis” with the opportunity to build their self-resilience and shape laudable career goals in life.

Speaking at the day 2 of the follow-up session for beneficiaries of the Chief Justice Mentoring Programme, Mrs. Selina Owusu, National Gender Analyst at UNFPA, in a speech read on behalf of UNFPA Country Director, Niyi Ojuolape said, “child marriage disproportionately affects girls, robs them of their childhood, threatening their lives and health. Girls who marry before 18 are more likely to experience domestic violence and less likely to remain in Marriage.”

According to UNICEF, one in five girls aged 20-24 years are married before the age of 18 in Ghana.

UNFPA indicated that the inclusion of Kayayei in the Chief Justice Mentoring Programme is to economically empower and promote the rights of young girls through education and livelihood programmes to end child marriage.

“To curb its menace, the UNFPA-UNICEF Global Programme to End Child Marriage has been initiated among other goals, to promote the rights of adolescent girls to avert such marriages and enable them to achieve their aspirations through sound empowering pathways.”

Selina said the UNFPA take a keen interest in the mentorship programme as it is in line with the mandate to deliver a world where every young person’s potential is fulfilled.

“There have been success stories of Orange Girls who have returned to school and have successfully completed second cycle as well as tertiary institutions. There have also been Orange Girls who have found their feet in businesses and other career paths causing them to quit working as ‘Kayayei’.

“I was once a head porter ( popularly referred to as Kayayei). I come to Accra from Tamale in the Northern Region every vacation to engage in kayayei business while in my first year of Junior High School. I dropped out of school during the second year of Senior High School because I couldn’t endure the stress any longer, so I fully joined the Kayayei business untill I was introduced to the Chief Justice programme by Purim African Youth Development Platform (PAYDP). It gave me hope and really empowered me to go back to school, and in level 200, at the University of Ghana offering BSc in Nursing and Midwifery Sala Abudu,” a beneficiary shared her story.

Bailawu Awudu, a dropout said, “the programme has supported me with skills training and now I’m into fashion.”

She added that as part of the UNFPA’s commitment to end child marriage, the follow-up session is to assess the initiative’s impact on their lives, in exploring new career paths despite their personal circumstances.

Rev. Aku Xornam Kevi, Executive Director for PAYDP, stressed that poverty, teenage pregnancy, inequality among others has been one of the multiple factors that contribute to child marriage.

She added that empowering the girls through education and skills training has impacted meaningfully on their lives.

According to her, girls deserve the right to education, and UNFPA and PAYDP through the Chief Justice Mentorship Programme is offering opportunities to the Kayayei, to realize their dreams.

“It will surprise you that some of these girls mobilized from urban markets had good grades at their Junior High School level, and UNFPA and PAYDP through the Chief Justice Mentoring Programme are empowering them through adolescent rights education, skills training and educational support,” she stated.

Source: Modern Ghana