Globally about 1 in 3 women experience violence in their lifetime (WHO; world report on violence and health, 2002).
Violence against women and children, in particular, continues to be frighteningly common and consequentially accepted as “normal” within too many societies.
The Former Minister for Gender, Children and Social Protection, Nana Oye Lithur at the 57th Session of the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women stated, even in schools, 14 and 52 % of girls are victims of sexual abuse and gender-based violence respectively.
Measures taken by Government to prevent and respond to Sexual and Gender-Based Violence include the setting up of the Domestic Violence and Victim Support Unit which has 97 offices nationwide as well as two specialists Gender-Based Violence courts in Accra and Kumasi.
Despite these institutional frameworks, women and girls in Ghana are still adversely affected by sexual abuse, physical violence, socio-economic violence etc.
Alarmingly, violence against women and children in our communities may be far more than what is in the limelight, as these issues remain highly sensitive that only a few females dare to openly discuss.
The need to implement interventions in the context of Ghanaian communities is conspicuous.
The I-Matter project implemented by Savana Signatures with funding from Grand Challenge Canada is to contribute to reducing Sexual and Gender-Based Violence (SGBV) among women and adolescent girls in the Nkwanta North and Krachie East districts in Oti Region of Ghana.
The prevalence of teenage pregnancy, rape, child marriage and abuse among girls and women are the most challenging SGBV issues across Krachie East and Nkwanta North Districts where the project is being implemented.
Since 2019, the I-Matter project through interactive media programmes has stimulated dialogues on ending harmful norms and practices that have marginalized women and girls in the communities under both districts.
The project has supported adolescent girls/boys and women in both districts with access and utilization of SGBV/SRHR information, services and linkages to social justice institutions.
Ms Rahana Mohammed, the project manager opined that the project has established 20 safe spaces in both districts as well as trained 31 resource persons (community volunteer, Teachers and Heath workers) to facilitate the Ready Steady sessions and provides support to women and girls/boys on their reproductive health and Sexual and Gender-Based Violence issues.
So far, Savana Signatures has partnered with Ghana Education Service and Ghana Health Service to reach 7000 adolescent boys and girls, women and men with SGBV and reproductive health information through the use of community sensitizations and the SHE+ Helpline.
Women and Adolescents, both in and out of school are linked to Savana Signatures SHE+ Helpline to receive real-time, confidential, convenient information, counselling as well as referrals to health facilities and social justice institutions.
According to Mrs Dorcas Kyei, a Community Health Nurse at Kpelema Health centre Krachie, East district, the demand for contraceptives have increased since the inception of the project.
“Young people, women and parents come with their children to access these services at the health facility and I hope that teenage pregnancy and Sexual Transmitted Infections (STIs) will reduce among adolescent girls within the communities.”