Bethany Continues to Champion the Rights and Better Future of Girls in Ghana

Charles Wundengba

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International Day of the Girl Child has been observed annually since 2012 and it draws attention to the triumphs and challenges of girls in Ghana and the world as a whole. It is both a celebration of the lives of girls and a call for action to address the critical issues that affect them, recognise their right to full participation in society and put their interests at the heart of development.

Girls' empowerment is important in improving the status of girls and women in general and also helps achieve greater gender equity. Girls who have access to education and are empowered are less likely to become teenage mothers and they find their voices and contribute positively to the development of their communities.

Theresa was 17 years old when her family enrolled in Family Preservation and Empowerment program at Bethany Ghana. Being one of the nine children in her mother’s care, it would have been difficult for Theresa to further her education if not for Bethany Ghana’s intervention since the family was already having a hard time due to the high number of dependents.

Many girls at such stage of their lives, if they do not get the financial support and encouragement to move on, could get separated from their families and end up on the streets, some even revert to selling sex for survival. Research conducted by a Senior Lecturer at the Department of Sociology and Anthropology, University of Cape Coast (UCC), Dr. Georgina Oduro revealed a worrying trend of a high prevalence of children who are selling sex for survival in Ghana. According to her findings, these girls have few options beyond prostitution to make money to support their families and fend for themselves.

Bethany believes families deserve to stay together, and empowered families are the foundation for strong communities. That’s why Bethany’s Ghana helps families like Theresa’s. Our Family Preservation and Empowerment program is designed to support families—particularly women and girls— by stabilizing and empowering heads of families and caregivers. We provide families with essential nutrition, medical aid, access to education, psycho-social support, and housing needs.

Bethany Ghana provided the financial support needed by Theresa to start her 3 years of senior high school education in Cape Coast where she learnt Home Economics as a course, majoring in clothing and textiles. After graduating, Theresa is currently perfecting her skills as a fashion designer which will enable her to start her own shop and help support her family. She is one of many girls Bethany Ghana has supported and empowered to become independent.

The theme for this year’s International Day of the Girl, "Our time is now—our rights, our future" falls right into what Bethany has been doing in Ghana over the years. We continue to support the leadership of adolescent girls at the forefront of change efforts by training and building their capacity. We also invest in adolescent girls by empowering them to reach self-sufficiency.

As the World celebrates International Day of the Girl, we join the United Nations to call on governments and organisations to pay greater attention and take action on improving access to inclusive adolescent girl-centered services at all times.