Lydia Kukua Asamoah, GNA
Accra, March 8, GNA – The First Lady, Mrs Rebecca Akufo-Addo, says education remains the main catalyst to the elimination of early marriages and the general development of the individual and the nation.
She said the longer a girl stayed in school the longer she delayed marriage and childbirth, which ensures a better future for her.
Speaking at a ceremony she hosted in Accra to mark the 2018 International Women’s Day on Thursday, Mrs Akufo-Addo said education made girls to be heard and allowed them to be seen.
“It gives them a voice to shape their future. It gives that child the voice to say “No I should determine who I spend my life with,” she said.
Mr Akufo-Addo said it was in Ghana’s interest to ensure both girls and boys develop to their full potential by taking advantage of the free education being provided in the country up to the senior high level.
“We must, therefore, take deliberate steps to do what others have done. We have the policies, we have the laws. We have the knowledge and we have the tools. It is time to act,” she said.
She expressed regret that even though UNICEF studies indicate a global declining trend in child marriages, Ghana is still far from completely eradicating the menace.
The International Women’s Day is marked globally on March 8, each year, to take a critical look at the barriers that impede the progress of women, the progress made so far and what needed to be done going forward.
The theme for this year is “Press for Progress” and Ghana used the Day to focus on two issues: Girls’ Education and Elimination of Early Marriages.
Mrs Akufo-Addo said this year’s theme spoke to something deep within her, adding; “For me, it means that we move in spite of the obstacles. That we push forward in spite of the resistance. It means we do not allow anything to stop us”.
She stated that the world was experiencing strong and concerted activism towards gender parity.
“Today is an opportunity for us to add our voices to the discussions to get us closer to our goal. I certainly want my grandchildren to live in a Ghana where we have gender parity,” Mrs Akufo-Addo said.
There were a panel discussion on the issues of Girls Education, Teenage Pregnancy and Child Marriage, and the panellists, who included Niyi Ojuolape, the Country Representative of the UNFPA, called on the country to address the issues of adolescent pregnancy, poverty and early marriage.
In attendance was Mrs Samira Bawumia, Wife of the Vice–President, some former first ladies, including Mrs Nana Konadu Agyemang Rawlings and Mrs Fulera Limann, as well as Hajia Alima Mahama, Wife of the Former Vice President, Madam Otiko Afisa Djaba, Minister of Gender, Children and Social Protection, Mrs Joyce Aryee, Founder of Salt and Light Ministry, and some Members of Parliament and the Diplomatic Corps.
Traditional leaders, the Clergy, Members of the Judiciary, some celebrities, and development partners were also present to grace the occasion.