Stop Period-Shaming Adolescent Girls, Ghanaian Males Advised

By Gayheart Anahor, Bolgatanga, Ghana

The Upper East regional chapter of Human Rights and Sustainable Development for all , RISE Ghana has launched their project on the adolescent-led sexual and reproductive health in the Upper East Region, focused on 6 districts , Bawku West , Kassena-Nankana West , Bongo , Builsa South ,Talensi and Nabdam. 

The purpose of the intervention is to identify , mobilize and empower gatekeepers , service providers and duty bearers to create a protective and conducive environment for improved access to quality, age – appropriate comprehensive sexuality education and reproductive health service using the Adolescent SBCC model, adolescent health delivery points including menstrual hygiene management( MHM) and Girls Ion-Folate Table Supplementation ( GIFT). 
 
Adolescent girls in Ghana are unable to harness their full potential and realize their dreams due to a myriad of factors ranging from teenage pregnancy, limited access to comprehensive sexuality information and services, negative masculinity norms, sex taboos, gender norms among others.
 
Statistics shows that 14% of Adolescent girls aged 15 – 19 years had begun childbearing ( GDHS 2014), 0.7% of girls aged 15-19 years had given birth by age of 15 ( MICS 2018) and 18% of women aged 20 – 24 had given birth by the age of 18 ( MICS 2018).
 
1 out of 5 girls are married before the age of 18 ( MICS 2018), 1 in 10 women aged 15 – 24 years name pregnancy and family/marriage as a reason to stop school. ( GDHS 2014)
 
1 out of 5 girls are married before the age of 18 ( MICS 2018), 1 in 10 women aged 15 – 24 years name pregnancy and family/marriage as a reason to stop school. ( GDHS 2014)
 
The young adolescent folk were drawn from various health clubs comprising young people aged 12- 19 years in the Upper East Region as part of RISE GHANA and UNICEF GHANA project titled  “Creating Enabling and Protective Environment for Adolescent and gate keepers to Champion sexual and Reproductive Health Right ( SRHR) in the Upper East Region. 
 
While commending government for the various policies and programs ,they are deeply concerned about the increasing trends of rising cases of teenage pregnancy, defilement, poor nutrition, child neglect and child exploitation in the region. 
 
The young people further used the opportunity to call for the following:
1.More involvement in the designing and implementation of activities about Adolescents because it will provide them the opportunity to voice concerns and experience of friends .
2. Society and media should desist from blaming survivors or victims when reporting issues of violence against Adolescents. 
3. The school environment must all have changing rooms to make girls undergoing their period feel safe and comfortable 
4. The Ghana health service must set-up, fully resourced facilities and ensure “Adolescent friendly corners ” are indeed ” Adolescent Friendly to increase access to services and information for Adolescents.
5. Men and boys should take immediate action to stop mocking girls or period-shaming them when menstruating. 
6. Government and development partners must take immediate action to remove the tax on sanitary pad to make it more accessible. 
7. Communities and schools should encourage girls and stop stigmatizing girls who take the Girls Ion-Folate Table Supplementation ( GIFT). 

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