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Stakeholders Deliberate On Ending Child Marriage   
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The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), in partnership with Purim African Youth Development Platform (PAYDP), an NGO, has deliberated on ways to initiate and sustain a project that will end child marriage and also empower female head porters (kayayei) in the country.

The pilot-based project is geographically targeting some market centres within the Ashanti, Brong Ahafo and Greater Accra regions in the country. It is expected to benefit about 2,200 kayayei.

Other stakeholders on board the project include the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection (MoGCSP), Ghana Health Service (GHS), National Vocational Training Institute (NVTI), Domestic Violence and Victims Support Unit (DOVVSU) and the National Board of Small-Scale Industries (NBSSI).


At a meeting held in Accra, the executive director of PAYDP, Mrs Aku Xornam Kevi, explained that the project would equip young Kayayei from the ages of 10-19 with tools that would help them make informed decisions over their future, improve their economic status and reduce vulnerability to gender-based violence. These would be achieved through legal literacy, livelihood skills training, adolescent and sexual reproductive health education and human rights advocacy.

Based on a survey by the Ghana Demographic and Health Survey (GDHS) 2014, one out of five girls in Ghana is married before turning 18 years, while one out of three girls within the three regions of the north is married before age 18.

A representative of the UNFPA, Mr Bawa Amadu, said the goal of the organisation was to end child marriage in Ghana by focusing on the kayayei who usually suffer sexual exploitation, teenage pregnancy, unsafe abortions and forced marriages and cohabitation.

However, according to the national programme analyst on Gender at the UNFPA, Madam Selina Owusu: “It is not the work of UNFPA and other agencies to continue training these young girls. These are the things government should be doing because of who we are as a middle-income country. However, because of resource challenges, such programmes help us to catalise.”


Madam Lydia Osei-Agyapong of DOVVSU national Secretariat, told discussants that DOVVSU was more interested in educating the kayayei on gender based violence and how they can protect themselves by speaking up and reporting on issues than prosecuting culprits.

“We can help by giving them the right information and empowering them. If you go to the police and report an offense it doesn’t mean you are a bad person but the fact that, you want the right thing to be done.

“The challenge that we have is, we don’t have DOVVSU in all the police station. some kayayei have never been to school neither have they ever been to the police station to report, so they don’t even know how to present a case. And you know our people too (the police), most of them have not been trained to handle such issues, so if you don’t know what you are about, then they drive you away.”


A leader of the Kayayei Youth Association of Ghana, Mr Mohammed Isaac Salifu, admitted that poverty is the main cause of migration from north to the south.

He also predicted that more girls were likely to move down south to engage in Kayayei if conditions were not improved for the agriculture sector to thrive in the north.

Mr Salifu also made an appeal to the government and other agencies to sustain livelihood programmes by providing startup capital for the beneficiaries.

He said the association was working to collect comprehensive data on members in all urban centres for effective monitoring.

The director of entrepreneurship development at the NBSSI, Madam Anna Armo-Himbson, stressed on the need to economically empower the kayayei with livelihood skills which she said would be more profitable than the head porting business.

“They are already making money in their kayayei job, so whatever we introduce them to, should help them make more money otherwise it will not be attractive to them” she said.

Source: Daily graphic

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