First Lady Mrs Rebecca Akufo-Addo has charged government, women and gender activists to walk the talk with regards to ensuring gender parity.
Speaking at a dialogue with women in Accra on Thursday, 8 March 2018 as part of activities to mark International Women’s Day, she identified education as a tool to empower women and young girls.
Mrs Akufo-Addo said: “I know we have free education up to the Senior High School level, but free education is only meaningful to those who take advantage of it. Unfortunately, girls more than boys are unable to advance beyond SHS as a result of poverty, early marriages, teenage pregnancy, and other socio-cultural factors but it is in Ghana’s interest to ensure both girls and boys develop to their full potential. We must therefore take deliberate steps to do what others have done. We have the policies, we have the laws. We have the knowledge and we have the tools. It is time to act.”
She continued: “Education allows girls to be seen. It gives them a voice to shape their future. It gives that child the voice to say ‘no I should determine who I spend my life with’. Now I know we will have a great discourse. That is good. We’ve been having these discourses for years. But remember this, beyond the discourse is a young girl who is not in school. Beyond the discourse is a young girl who dropped out of school because her community does not see the value in educating a girl. Beyond the discourse is a child bride. Beyond the discourse is a pregnant school drop-out. So let’s talk, but let’s come up with action.”
Mrs Akufo-Addo added that: “Each of us must determine to do something to get our girls to go to school and, stay in school. Each of us must determine to stop child marriages.
“I believe in the power of touch. Determine to touch a girl’s life. Maybe one life at a time is all you can do but the net effect of everyone touching a life is like the fluttering of a million butterflies, it produces energy that no one butterfly can produce.
“We want to send a message of hope to our girls and to local communities that every girl can be whatever they want to be. That every girl deserves to develop to their full potential and it starts with education
“If we don’t act, our free education policy may not mean anything to these girls and their future. I would not be who I am without education. Neither would I be who I am today, if I had been born in an environment where child marriage is the norm.
“Women must be seen. Women must be heard. We should get to that day when equality for women is assumed. To get to that day though, requires deliberate actions and steps. We have done enough talking. It's time to walk the talk.”
This year’s International Women’s Day celebration is under the theme: “Press for Progress”.
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