Still No Minister At Gender Ministry …As 8,000 Girls Aged 12-17 Are Married Off
Nearly three months after President Nana Akufo-Addo nominated a substantive minister and a deputy minister for the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection, the positions remain vacant, as activities at the ministry grind slowly.
This is as a result of seeming delay by the Appointment Committee of Parliament,which is responsible for vetting the nominees, which has been on recess since this July.
Interestingly, while the President’s nominees for the positions -LaribaZuweiraAbudu and Francisca Oteng Mensah for Minister and Deputy respectively,continue to wait at home to be vetted by the Appointment Committee, chaired by the Member of Parliament (MP) for Bekwai, Joseph Osei Owusu, reports say nearly 8,000 girls between ages 12 and 17 years are already married or living with a man.
The staggering number was issued by the Ghana Statistical Service (GSS) as part of the 2020 Population and Housing Census days ago, to coincide with the International Day of the Girl Child, which was observed globally last week.
But checks by The Anchor indicate that the ministry is still without a minister, months after the Director of Communications at the Office of the President, Eugene Arhin, announced the names of the nominees in August 2022.
Sources at the ministry say the development is hindering process of work, as major policy decisions and activities which needed approval by a minister could not be implemented.
According to the data, out of the number, more than 25,000 are girls of Junior High School (JHS) going age between 12 and 14 years.
The North East Region has the highest percentage of 13 percent of girls in union, followed by the Savannah Region with 10.9 percent and the Northern Region with 10.6 percent, which are twice more than the national average of 4.6 percent.
It said that despite the Free and Compulsory Universal Basic Education (FCUBE), almost a quarter of a million girls aged 16 to 14 years has never attended school at all, according to the Statistical Service.
These three regions also have the highest percentage of girls currently not attending school.
But the data has shocked many who say it is unacceptable for Ghana to record this huge number in child marriages, even in 2022.
They say it is shocking and heartbreaking to learn that this huge number of girls is not taking the opportunities successive governments have put in place to access education but are resorting to early marriage.
While some blamed the situation on the harsh economic situation and irresponsible parenting, others blamed the ministry for doing almost nothing to save the situation.
They argue that, despite its importance, no seriousness is attached to the ministry, since MP for the Dome Kwabenya constituency was put in that position.
The President had, in the statement, hoped that Parliament will hasten the process so that the two can assist him in delivering his mandate.
The statement read: “The President of the Republic, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, in accordance with article 78 of the Constitution, has appointed the Deputy Minister for Gender, Children and Social Protection, Hon. LaribaZuweiraAbudu, the Member of Parliament for Walewale, as Minister-designate for Gender, Children and Social Protection. Her appointment is subject to the approval of Parliament.
“Pursuant to article 79 of the Constitution, President Akufo-Addo has also nominated Hon. Francisca Oteng Mensah, Member of Parliament for Kwabre East, as Deputy Minister-designate for Gender, Children and Social Protection, subject to the approval of Parliament.
“The President is hopeful that Parliament will expedite the approval of his nominees for this important Ministry, so they can assist in the effective delivery of his mandate for his second term in office.”
Recall that on August 2, this year, the Member of Parliament for Walewale constituency,LaribaZuweiraAbudu, was nominated as the new minister, together with Francisca Oteng Mensah, MP for Kwabre East, as her deputy minister nominee.
But the nominated minister, who until her elevation was the deputy, is unable to act as expected, let alone formulate policies to avert this damning data, because she has no mandate yet from Parliament.
Before their nominations, the ministry didnot have a substantive minister, as the then minister, Sarah Adwoa Safo, abandoned her portfolio for almost two years for unexplained reason, spending most the time in the United States (US) for private venture.
In her absence, the Minister for Sanitation and Water Resources, Cecilia AbenaDapaah, was appointed the caretaker minister.
It is, however, unclear whether Madam Cecilia Dapaah is still in her acting capacity as caretaker minister, after the nomination of the substantive minister and her deputy.
The august House is expected to resume sitting next Wednesday October 26.
Though some concerned persons agree the House is on recess, they say some special arrangement could have been made for the two to be vetted, as it is done in some cases if the ministry was important to both the executive and legislative.