By Iddi Yire, GNA
Essarkyir (C/R), July 11, GNA - Reverend Dr Comfort Asare, the Director of Gender, Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection, has praised the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) and the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) for joining hands to support children, girls and women in Ghana.
She said the two UN agencies deserved commendations for scaling-up their efforts in the prevention of adolescent pregnancy and improvement of maternal and child health.
Rev Dr Asare was speaking to the Ghana News Agency at Essarkyir, the capital of the Ekumfi District in the Central Region, during a three-day tour of the Region by the UNFPA-UNICEF Joint Programme Steering Committee (JPSC).
Members of the delegation include Rev Dr Asare, Mr Christian Tardif, Director, Cooperation, Canadian High Commission; Madam Anne-Claire Dufay, UNICEF Country Representative in Ghana and Mr Niyi Ojuolape, UNFPA Country Representative in Ghana.
The UNFPA-UNICEF Joint Programme, dubbed “Empowering Adolescent Girls through Improved Access to Comprehensive Sexuality Education (CSE) and Rights-Based Quality Sexual and Reproductive Health Services in Ghana”, is being funded by the Canada Global Affairs in 36 districts in eight regions.
It is designed to support Government implement its adolescent girls’ vision and deliver more integrated and multisectoral responses to address the interrelated needs of adolescent girls in Ghana.
The timeframe for implementation is 2018-2020.
At Essarkyir the delegation had interactions with adolescent girls, and they also observed Planned Parenthood Association of Ghana (PPAG) led interventions on CSE and skills development training for adolescent girls and boys; both in school and out of school.
Some of the adolescent girls undergoing the skills development programme at Essarkyir were expectant and nursing mothers.
Rev Dr Asare said the bond of cooperation between the two organisations would go a long way to help meet the needs of children, adolescents and women.
With regards to the skills development training at Ekumfi, Dr Asare said: "This is a very good programme. I think that God created all of us with talents. Everybody has some capabilities. We can all do something. So, to sit down and say you can't do anything is problematic."
"These are teenagers, some are already pregnant, others too have given birth whilst others have completed junior high school and they are doing virtually nothing."
She said to occupy them was the most beautiful thing which had happened to them at this moment of their lives, because it was a very great idea for them to be occupied to find something to do with their time.
"Because we all know that the devil finds work for the idle hand. And for them to come together to form this group to produce liquid soap, I think we should give them a toast."
She expressed gratitude to PPAG and UNFPA for sponsoring the skills development initiative.
The Director also appealed to the sponsors to assist the group to package their liquid soap well for the market.
Sixteen year old Comfort Egyir, a mother of one and a beneficiary of the project said aside the skills development training, they had also been thought self-esteem and CSE.
She expressed her gratitude to PPAG, UNICEF and UNFPA for coming to their aid.
She said the group, which had 12 members was hoping to produce more liquid soap and antiseptic for the market, and through that earn their living.
Mr Michael Tagoe, PPAG Project Officer for the Central and Western Regions, said because of the high numbers of teenage pregnancies due largely to poverty, the project was designed to give adolescent girls livelihood empowerment skills, so that they would be able to take care of themselves.
He said the CSE programme seeks to empower and equip young people, especially adolescents with adequate information sexual reproductive health, so that they would be able to make informed decisions.