The pandemic has caused lots of disruptions in all spheres, especially the health system. This has exposed serious gaps and challenges in the provision of sexual and reproductive health services for women and girls. The situation has worsened gender inequality, gender-based violence, and harmful practices including child marriage, which calls for urgent attention.
In commemoration of World Population Day 2021 in Ghana, I joined the National Population Council in a celebration under the theme, “Prioritising Reproductive Health as an Answer to Rights and Choices”.
Working to eliminate Sexual and Gender-Based Violence (SGBV) and other harmful practices has gained more prominence lately, given the fact that the COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated incidents of SGBV, coupled with the difficulties associated with reporting cases.
Children often fall victims of such acts perpetrated mostly by men, leaving devastating effects on their physical and emotional wellbeing, usually for the rest of their lives, particularly when no quality care is provided.
Last two years (November 2019), in Nairobi the world came together to celebrate and remind itself of commitments they made in Cairo 25 years ago during the ICPD. Countries including Ghana made renewed commitments at the conference to ensure that the three zeros are achieved.
This year’s theme for the national Demographic Summit was, “The cost of avoidable pregnancies”. This theme is relevant to the three transformative results namely; zero avoidable maternal deaths, zero unmet need for family planning, and zero gender-based violence and harmful practices towards the realisation of the SDGs by 2030.
“My Body Is My Own”, title of the 2021 State of the World Population (SWOP) Report, brings to light the right of women and girls to own their bodies, decide when and where to give birth, and their abilities to make other sexual choices.
I joined the launch of the 2021 SWOP Report by sharing highlights of the report and the urgency in allowing women and girls exercise their sexual rights.
Women’s empowerment is a critical aspect of achieving gender equality and the 17 Sustainable Development Goals. Eliminating all forms of violence against women and girls and providing equal opportunities accelerates development in various areas.
Realising the vital role of the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection (MoGCSP) in Ghana, I paid a courtesy call to the Minister, Hon. Sarah Adwoa Sarfo to strengthen the partnership between MoGCSP and UNFPA in Ghana.
During the visit, I reiterated our continuous support for MoGCSP to enhance its coordinating role by updating policies, frameworks, and developing effective gender-responsive programming at all levels to improve accountability for gender equality.
Achieving the three zeros; zero unmet need for family planning, zero preventable maternal death, and zero gender-based violence and harmful practices, means working with government, civil society organisations and private partners.
The role data plays in helping to deliver development is always crucial. Organized ways of eliciting critical data for development purposes like national censuses are even more welcome in an age where experts say, ‘data is the new oil’. Owing to the COVID-19 pandemic, the intended census for Ghana was moved from 2020 to this year, so that the all-important exercise can be carried out with high levels of accuracy and also maximum protection from the global pandemic.
On Friday, I joined colleagues in the United Nations (UN), Development sector, CSOs and Government, for the launch of the census process in Ghana, dubbed “100 days to 2021 Population and Housing Census”. The keynote speaker at the event, the Vice President of the Republic of Ghana, His Excellency, Alhaji Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia highlighted the relevance of data for informing sound Government Policy.
The new date for the Census as confirmed by the Ghana Statistical Service (GSS) is Sunday, 27 June, 2021, and for the first time, the census process will be digital–making use of emerging technology to deliver faster and more accurate results.