Plan International Ghana, in partnership with Days for Girls, both child welfare advocacy have called on Government to expedite the acquisition of a short code for lodging of complaints of Sexual and Gender Based Violence (SGBV) acts.
The NGOs also appealed to government to develop policies to put standards in place for reusable sanitary pads.
They made the call on Tuesday, at a stakeholder meeting organised to give a post-project report on a “COVID-19 Gender Emergency Response Programme” implemented to ensure the welfare of vulnerable and deprived children, especially girls after Ghana recorded her first cases of COVID-19.
The programme saw the two bodies train needy girls, including; kayayei (female potters) on production of reusable sanitary pads, facial masks, and portable backpacks with African print.
The skills would enable them to earn extra income by selling the items in their communities and also promote easy access to sanitary pads and face masks among their communities and families.
Mr Solomon Tesfamariam, the Country Director of Plan International Ghana, said the project was aimed at upholding the dignity of girls, who were hard hit by the global crisis.
During the COVID-19 period, he said there were pressures on women and girls as they were out of school.
“The level of violence, abuse and exploitation of children is still high despite the existence of progressive laws to protect children. We are also witnessing a surge in sexual and gender based violence cases which have spiraled out of control and resulted to the harming and sometimes loss of lives of children.
“Moreover, menstrual hygiene health to date remains a taboo topic that is rarely discussed in public fora as it is often treated as a 'woman's issue' and is not addressed in the mainstream media,leaving stigma, misconceptions, and misinformation surrounding menstruation to continue to exist, “ he said.
He said it was important for Ghana and all stakeholders to work towards promoting better menstrual hygiene management since it kept young girls and women from attaining their full responsibility.
It also exposes them to health risks like reproductive tract infections, toxic shock syndrome and poor waste management, which affected the environment.
Madam Malonin Asibi, Director of the Domestic Violence Secretariat, MoGCSP, commended the two NGOs for helping to reduce the effects of the COVID-19 on vulnerable girls.
She said the Ministry was working towards implementing a document to control teenage pregnancy, due to the increasing number of domestic and sexual violence and child marriage cases since the outbreak of COVID-19 in Ghana.
She said the Ministry was also working on producing an operational framework for a 10-year strategic framework on ending child marriage, to reduce the injustices girls faced in the country.
Mr Solomon Koranteng, an official with Days for Girls, explained that to support government in reducing child injustices, they engaged the Ghana Health Service and District Health Management teams as well as the Domestic Violence and Victim Support Unit of the Ghana Police Service on the need to advocate sexual reproductive health right and educate vulnerable people on SGBV.