Accra is one of the densely populated 37.9 % slum cities in Ghana with no systematic mentoring of the girl-child (0%) for the whole slum communities with population over 5 million. The residents of these communities struggle with issues of education, poverty, child labour, and gender equality. About 49% population are living in poverty, as defined by 2010 census of Ghana as against 24.2% poverty rate of Ghana. Due to this, the girl-child is faced with streetism; domestic violence, low income of families, family related problems, physical and sexual abuse, and various sexually transmitted diseases such as HIV/AIDS.
Gender equality is not only a fundamental human right, but a necessary foundation for a peaceful, prosperous and sustainable world. Unfortunately, at the current time, 1 in 5 girls between the ages of 8-15 have reported experiencing physical or sexual violence by an intimate partner within a 12-month period in these community which currently have no laws protecting girls.
In Ghana, close to a third of children are not educated. This number may appear alarming, but, it is one of the lowest rates on the continent. School is free, but despite this, the additional costs it creates are sometimes a stumbling block to universal education. As a result, in families, sometimes only some children have the chance to go to school. The others, generally the girls, stay at home and perform domestic tasks. Even if the country has allocated important resources to eradicate problems accessing education, it still affects some, most particularly young girls. Which depicts the situation in these slum communities in Accra for years.
More than a third of the girl-child are forced to work to support the needs of their families. Most Ghanaian children are employed on the major streets, the main economic activity of the country. They are faced with deplorable, exhausting, and dangerous working conditions. This economic exploitation is also an important source of African child trafficking. In fact, many children from neighboring countries are forced to enter Ghanaian territory illegally to be employed in the cocoa industry. Young girls are often employed as domestic servants, whether in their own families or in richer families.
But how do we get there?
There are a couple of organizations that I have learned about recently that are going in at the ground level and supporting girls and young women in under-served communities through the practice of mentoring.
Through Step Up young girls are given mentors who encourage their ambition, empower their confidence, and keep them on track by helping them set goals and work toward achieving them.
“These girls are smart — they are capable — and what they need is you. You are their role models, you are their mentors, you are their inspiration,” said Jenni Luke, executive director of Step Up, to a ballroom full of Step Up supporters last week at the seventh Annual Step Up Inspiration.
By: Senyo Sosu