UNFPA-UNICEF Joint Programme on comprehensive sexuality education and rights-based quality sexual reproductive health services make headway

A team of UN staff and partners have visited the Central region to observe progress of a joint programme implementation and to engage with stakeholders.

The United Nations in Ghana has led the steering committee members of one of its joint programmes, the “Empowering adolescent girls through improved access to comprehensive sexuality education (CSE) and rights-based quality sexual reproductive health (SRH) services in Ghana”, to a field visit to the programme sites. The visit to the Komenda-Edina-Eguafo-Abirem (KEEA) district in the Central region was led by the Heads of United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), Mr. Niyi Ojuolape and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), Ms. Anne-Claire Dufay. Also accompanying the team was Head of Development Cooperation at Global Affairs Canada (GAC), Mr. Christian Tardif.

The 3-year UNFPA-UNICEF joint programme is being funded by the GAC and implemented in 36 districts of the country to improve access to youth-friendly and gender-sensitive CSE and SRH Rights (SRHR) for adolescent girls so that they will be able to defend and promote their sexual and reproductive rights.

Members of the steering committee include staff of UNFPA, UNICEF and the Canadian Embassy, representatives from Government institutions, Civil Society Organizations and Youth Networks.  The Steering Committee’s role is to provide strategic direction and oversight of the implementation of the programme.  The joint visit was therefore to observe progress of programme implementation and engage the target groups and beneficiaries of the programme, strengthen partnership amongst stakeholders and identify the needs of the adolescent girls in the region so as to improve on programme strategies to achieve the intended objectives.

During the first leg of the 3-day field visit, the team stopped at one of the CSE sessions at Ekumfi Essarkyir, the capital of Ekumfi District in the Central region to interact with some of the beneficiaries.  According to Mr. Michael Tagoe of PPAG, the girls undergo 6-module of 36 sessions on CSE and RHSR and livelihood empowerment training sessions. “So far the 300 girls who have benefitted from this programme in Ekumfi Assarkyir alone are beginning to appreciate the fact that their lives have not come to an end” says Mr. Tagoe.

A total of 25 adolescent mothers have received training in soap and pomade making under the programme here.  They hope to make some money to support their children and later go back to school.  Four of the girls have come together to use their skills to venture into a business. Comfort, Sabina and Victoria, all of whom are 19 years and Kate, 16 years old put their resources together to embark on soap-making business. “This is our first produce.  We hope to make money to care for ourselves and the children we have” says Comfort.

The girls are determined to turn their lives around. “I will go back to school to complete my education” says 16-year old Kate who had to stop school at Grade 8 due to her pregnancy. “Thanks to my mother, I can go back to school” she added.

The team also paid a courtesy call on the Central regional Minister, Hon. Kwamena Duncan, at his office. The Minister warmly welcomed the team and thanked them for their interventions to address the menace of teenage pregnancy in the region.  He expressed his sentiments for a strong commitment to invest in empowering the adolescent girl for “we can change the development direction of the country if we pay close attention to the issue of teenage pregnancy” he indicated.

Another point of call was the Central regional office of the Domestic Violence and Victim Support Unit of the Ghana Police Service (DOVVSU).  Here they were briefed on the trend of domestic violence in the region.  It was revealed that an average of 180 cases, mostly parental neglect and assault, are handled per year. According to the Supt of Police, Mr. George Appiah-Sakyi the Unit is facing some challenges, but they are determined to offer the needed support to those who need them. One of the challenges they face, he revealed, is their inability to follow up on cases due to the unavailability of detailed information on the complainants’ location or address for tracking purposes.

Read more about the beneficiaries and their stories and how the programme is empowering them.

Written by
Author
Cynthia Prah
Communications Officer
UNIC
UNIC Accra NIO
UN entities involved in this initiative
UNFPA
United Nations Population Fund
UNICEF
United Nations Children’s Fund