Bolgatanga, Dec 14, GNA – Access to Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) by women and girls is key to gender equality and empowerment and the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), Mrs Georgina Aberese-Ako, the Upper East Acting Regional Director of the Department of Children, has said.
She said if the sexual and reproductive health needs of individuals particularly women and girls were met it would empower them to be more assertive, improve upon family and community wellbeing, boost economic gains and save the lives of women and children.
She noted that it would enhance safe sexual life leading to the prevention of teenage pregnancies among adolescents, curb sexual and gender-based violence, and the spread of HIV/AIDS and other Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs).
The Acting Regional Director said this in Bolgatanga, at a legal literacy training workshop organized for adolescent girls from six districts in the Upper East Region by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA).
The training was on the theme, “empowering adolescent girls on their reproductive rights to end sexual and gender-based violence” and had support from the Global Affairs of Canada.
Mrs Aberese-Ako noted that sexual and reproductive health rights were basic human rights in the provision of healthcare services and were being supported by local and international laws, treaties, and conventions which Ghana was a signatory to.
She mentioned the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Convention for the Elimination of all forms of discrimination against women, International Conference on Population Development, African Charter on Human and People’s Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa among others as some legal support countries were making to ensure adequate, accessible and acceptable reproductive health rights in the provision of health services.
“For women and adolescents, the ability to control decisions about their reproductive health means they control their destiny. When sexual and reproductive health needs are not met, individuals are deprived of the right to make crucial choices about their bodies and future. For this reason, reproductive rights are essential component of an open society, without which women cannot enjoy full equality,” she added.
Madam Dora Kulariba, the Upper Regional Adolescent Coordinator, said development of adolescents made them more likely to engage in sexual activities and therefore there was the need for collective efforts to intensify education and advocacy for the provision of reproductive health support to them.
Madam Kulariba, who is also a Public Health Nurse at the Regional Health Directorate, advised parents to ensure effective communication between them and their children to ensure that they identified changes in the children especially girls, and provided guidance and support to them.
Madam Yvonne Wonchua, the UNFPA Focal Person, RCC, said the UNFPA was implementing a three-year adolescent sexual and reproductive health project in the six districts due to the high prevalence of teenage pregnancies and child marriages in those areas.
The training was to equip the girls with legal knowledge on human rights responsibilities with regards to their sexual and their reproductive health needs, to help them to become more assertive, stand for their rights and help fight sexual and gender violence, she said.
The girls were trained to become ambassadors to end discrimination and abuses against women and girls, promote gender parity, and contribute to achieving the SDGs particularly goal five, she added.
The beneficiary districts are Builsa South, Kassena-Nankana West, Bongo, Nabdam, Talensi, and Bawku West.