Ghana has an unprecedented opportunity to focus on the power of the adolescent girl to drive progress and transformation if increased investments are made to address poverty and gender inequality, which are the key drivers of vulnerability among adolescents and young people.
This is the key message from UNFPA, UNICEF and WFP, as the world celebrates the International Day of the Girl Child, under the theme the Power of the Adolescent Girl: Vision for 2030.
According to the three UN agencies, the policy environment in Ghana is favorable to adolescents and young people in general, taking into account the strong emphasis on reducing inequity that runs through all social sector policies and strategies. However, the benefits of economic development have been unevenly distributed and significant disparities remain that hold harsh consequences for the nation’s adolescents and young people.
Poverty is often the driving force behind child marriage and other negative coping strategies such as transactional sex. It also leads to the early withdrawal of adolescent girls from school resulting in a vicious cycle of poverty-driven reproduction, hunger and undernutrition.
Babatunde Ahonsi, UNFPA Representative in Ghana believes investing in adolescents and young people has proven value for addressing poverty alleviation and gender equality, promoting social justice and building inclusive societies. Safe and supportive families, schools, and positive supportive peers are also crucial in helping young people reach their full potential and attain the healthiest and most productive transition to adulthood. He urged all stakeholders to take advantage of the current demographic dividend dialogues and ensure its implementation for a better Ghana.
“If we ensure that adolescent girls today have access to good nutrition and education, delay marriages and pregnancies, then by 2030, more girls will reach their full potential and Ghana will be closer to the UN’s Zero Hunger goal which aims at eliminating hunger in our lifetime,” said Mutinta Chimuka, WFP Representative and Country Director in Ghana. “We need additional interventions which address the nutrient needs of the adolescent girl in order to ensure that if she becomes pregnant now or when she is older, she and her child will be healthier. With good nutrition, we can begin to break the cycle of hunger and poverty, one girl at a time.”
Girls born in 2000 when the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) were adopted, have reached adolescence today, and the generation of girls born this year will be adolescents in 2030 when the newly adopted Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) will expire. This year presents an opportune time to reflect on the importance of social, economic, and political investment in adolescent girls, as fundamental to breaking the intergenerational cycle of hunger, poverty, violence, exclusion and discrimination, in order to achieve equitable and sustainable development outcomes. The future of the country rests on the capacity of this generation of 10 to 24 year olds to utilize opportunities and services across all sectors.
“As a group, adolescent girls can be a formidable force to create a better world with the right investments, support and interventions, adolescent girls have the power and potential to transform families, communities, nations and the world, Ghana stands to lose future leaders and innovators of tomorrow if any of these adolescents are left out due to disparities,” said Susan Ngongi, UNICEF Representative.
Source: UN System
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