Mrs. Samira Bawumia, wife of the Vice President, has called on religious leaders to lead the campaign against Sexual and Gender Based Violence (SGBV), for optimal results.
She noted that religious leaders are key to changing and influencing social norms and community beliefs, particularly those that put adolescent girls at risk and said their silence and inaction could be detrimental to the welfare of young women in their communities.
“Your unique relationships with members of local communities, which are often built on mutual respect and trust makes it advantageous for the championing and promotion of interventions which would bring significant progress in communities,” she added.
Mrs Bawumia was speaking at the ceremony to draw the curtains on a three-day national conference for Faith Based Organizations (FBOs) on Comprehensive Sexuality Education (CSE) in Accra.
The conference was put together by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) with the Ministry of Chieftaincy and Religious Affairs as collaborators, and Global Affairs Canada, as sponsors.
“The Power of Choice” was the theme for the event and it was attended by Christian and Muslim leaders drawn from across the ten regions.
The event sought to provide participants with the appropriate information and skills to understand, advocate and support the dialogue on CSE, reproductive health and rights, family planning and prevention of SGBV.
It would also support stakeholders from various state institutions, Civil Society Organizations (CSOs), FBOs and development partners to advocate for an end to SGBV.
Mrs. Bawumia said vulnerabilities of young girls could lead to serious consequences that could affect them for a lifetime, adding that, “it was time for heightened advocacy and decisive actions by critical stakeholders to remove these and safeguard their future”.
“These girls are more likely to be exposed to harmful practices such as child marriage and female genital mutilation – indicators of gender inequality”, she observed.
She disclosed that it was for some of these reasons that she together with the UNFPA recently launched an initiative dubbed “Coalition of People Against Sexual and Gender Based Violence and Harmful Practices to spearhead and coordinate national response to issues of SGBV.
She praised the initiative to build the capacities of religious leaders, saying it was imperative for them to have accurate and appropriate information to address the menace in their respective communities.
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