Mr Solomon Tesfamariam, the Country Director of Plan International Ghana, has called on government and stakeholders to rigorously monitor the abuse of girls online.
He said abuse and harassment of girls were fast becoming a major threat to young females with very limited measures to protect them from online gender- based violence, especially amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Mr Tesfamariam made the call at the end of a three-day workshop to commemorate the International Day of the Girl Child, organised in Accra by the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection and its partners.
The celebration, which was on the theme: “My Voice, Our Equal Future,” sought to empower girls and give them a voice for greater future.
Mr Tesfamariam said recent research findings conducted among 14,000 girls, including Ghanaians, revealed that online violence silenced girls and created barriers to their leadership.
He said it was, therefore, important that they understood the concept of online safety and harassment from different perspectives and its devastating effects on their empowerment.
Mr Tesfamariam said adolescent girls had the right to safe education and healthy life, not only within their critical formative years, but also as they developed into womanhood.
“…And as we all work towards the resolution of this age long issues of abuse, we are further faced with a growing menace, which has emanated from the advent of the technological world, which we are gradually transitioning into,” he said.
He, therefore, called for effective and accessible reporting mechanisms that targeted gender-based violence to hold perpetrators to account.
Mr Tesfamariam also advised social media companies to use their technological skills and financial resources to put “freedom online” for girls and young women at the heart of their agenda.
Mrs Cynthia Mamle Morrison, the Minister of Gender, Children and Social Protection, said: “On this day, we must recognise the unique challenges faced by the girl child and deliberate on issues concerning them for redress.”
“We need to reflect on how well we have kept our promise of ensuring that every girl enjoys her fundamental right and dignity of life, quality education and protection from all forms of violence and discrimination,” she stated.
Mrs Morrison said educating girls was one of the best investments to overcome challenges such as online abuse that developing countries, including Ghana, were facing to create positive change and ensure sustainable development.
She said educating girls and providing them with the necessary skill training and social services would serve as a springboard for developing their potentials and contribute to Ghana’s social, political and economic development.
The Minister called on all stakeholders to get involved and help improve the life of girls by debunking negative gender stereotyping relating to their education, especially in engineering, science and technology, as well as encouraging them to aspire for greatness for a better future and society.
She encouraged girls to be confident, assertive and be aware of their innate capabilities no matter the circumstances.
The girls were educated on topics such as adolescent reproductive health amid COVID-19 and teenage pregnancy.
They had a debate on “Empowerment of Girls, a Catalyst to Ghana’s Underdevelopment”.
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