More than 49,000 under-15 girls having sex; Gender Minister alarmed

Gender and Social Protection Minister Nana Oye Lithur is alarmed by statistics that show that 10% of teens under 15 years are having sex.

This puts the figure at more than 49,000 girls out of Ghana’s under-15 girl population of 4,943,451. Ghana also has about 4,988,823 boys under 15. Together, teens under 15 years are nearly 4 out of ten Ghanaians, according to available data.

Nan Oye Lithur also revealed that there are 485 deaths out of every 100,000 births for teen mothers aged 12 to 14.

The Minister says the data demands the attention of the Education, Health and Gender Ministries.

“Figures are quite alarming… we really need to do a lot about teenage pregnancy in Ghana” she said on Joy FM’s Super Morning Show Monday.

Her ministry, she says will be holding a stakeholder forum next month to get public sector players, civil society organizations and Ghana’s donor partners to fashion out a coordinated effort to address teenage pregnancy.

It will determine “who is doing what and where….so that we have one coherent intervention that will lead to a drop in teenage pregnancy”

Nana Oye Lithur has also been talking about efforts by the Gender and Social Protection Ministry to address issues about struggles of marginalized groups.

She lamented that the lack of research data on gender-based violence which could help take scientific decisions is hampering the pace of progress.

“We need the research. We haven’t had a major research on the drivers of gender-based violence since 1998”. But with the funding help of DFID, the Ministry will soon obtain data by April 2016.

The donor organization is pushing £14 million into addressing gender-based violence especially on adolescent girls in Ghana.

One area considered a growing threat is child marriages.

Ghana has one of the highest child marriage prevalence rates in the world. On average, one out of four girls will be married before their 18th birthday.

According to the Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey (MICS 2011), about 27% of the women aged 20-24 were married/in union before age 18.

Data shows a mere 1% decline since 2003(28%).

While child marriage is common in Ghana, regional disparities are noticed in Upper East (39.2%), followed by Western Region (36.7%), Upper West (36.3%), Central (31.2%), Ashanti (30.5%), Volta (29.3%), Brong Ahafo (29.1%), Northern (27.4%), Eastern (27.2%), and Greater Accra (12.2%)

In response, the Ministry has created a Child Marriage Prevention Unit. The new unit is engaging young men and boys in communities to discourage child marriages.

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