Miss Abigail Baciara Gbentie, winner of 2014 TV3’s Ghana’s Most Beautiful pageant has encouraged basic school girls to stand firm against child marriage and avoid becoming victims of the social canker.
Ms Gbentie who is popularly known as ‘Baci’ said teenage pregnancy was one of the leading causes of child marriage and cautioned the girls to exercise self-discipline and not give in to sexual demands from men that may result in teenage pregnancies and consequently child marriage.
The Beauty Queen gave the advice while addressing Basic School girls during the ActionAid Girls’ Conference in Tumu in the Sissala East District of the Upper West Region.
Baci who hailed from Kong in the Sissala East District urged the girls to shun negative peer group influence and focus on their education to become responsible citizens to contribute to the development of their individual communities and country at large.
“You have to respect your parents and teachers in order to give them a reason to invest in your education”, she admonished the girls, stressing you can only do that when you demonstrate seriousness in school.
Ms Gbentie, the ActionAid Ghana “End Child Marriage” Campaign Ambassador appealed to the girls to also become ambassadors to the campaign by sharing the information they learnt at the conference with their colleagues at home in order to help end the social canker.
Madam Abiba Nidaradun, ActionAid Upper West Regional Programme Officer explained that the purpose of the conference was to help young girls identify their rights and responsibilities.
She added that it was also to encourage them to build valuable life skills such as self-esteem, confidence, and assertiveness among others to be able to resist all forms of rights violations including child marriages.
Mr. Kenneth Yoho, an Assistant Director in charge of Planning at the Sissala East District Education Directorate appealed to the girls to manage their time well both in school and out of school in order to achieve success.
He said Baci was standing before them today as a role model because she disciplined herself well while she was at their stage, adding “If you also discipline yourself today you can achieve greater success in life”.
Mr Alex Bapula, Sissala East District Director of Health said the health implications of teenage pregnancies were grievous including death and sexually transmitted diseases and advised the girls to exercise patience till they become matured enough to carry pregnancy in their husbands homes.
Mr Modestus Dangah, Sissala East District Director of the Commission for Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ) said in Ghana the legal age for marriage was 18 years and above and urged the girls to report anybody trying to give any of them out for marriage while the person was below age 18.
The over 160 participants were drawn from 22 community basic schools across the Sissala East and Sissala West Districts of the Upper West Region to attend the conference.
The event was marked with cultural display by Kupulima Girls Club and a drama on the consequences of child marriage performed by Bujan Girls Club.
Source: GNA | Ghana