Accra, April 6, GNA - The Ministry of Women and Children's Affairs is to re-launch family planning programmes to help curb the over-growing population in the country, the sector Minister said in Accra on Tuesday. Mrs Gladys Asmah said the current growth rate of three percent annually was alarming and if measures were not taken to control it, things would get out of hand.
"There would be a lot of people around without employment and that would not augur well for this country of ours", she said. Mr Asmah made these remarks when Ms Thoraya A. Obaid, Executive Director of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) paid a courtesy call on her at her office in Accra.
The visit was to enable the Ministry to source funding to support the programmes and ensure their take-off as soon as practicable. She said it was disheartening to see young girls as young as 14 years, become mothers because their parents could not take care of them or were not desirous to control their education.
The Minister said if women were given seed money to start businesses they would take good care of their children, adding that, "if women are well the nation would also be well."
The whole idea was to try and get a mind set for the younger generation that there was more to life than just being a mother at that early age. In collaboration with some Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) about 120 trokosis had been freed from shrines where they served and had been trained, she noted.
Mrs Asmah disclosed that her ministry had acquired copies of a book on Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) written by a Ghanaian, for distribution to libraries throughout the country.
This, she noted, was to help sensitise the younger generation on one of the harmful cultural practices in the country.
She was, however, happy that the message about these harmful cultural practices were going down well with the people who practised them.
Ms Obaid, who is in the country to participate in a staff retreat for Africa on the theme: "Promoting Human Rights Through Culturally Sensitive Approaches", said issues concerning women and children were life and death matters which should not be taken for granted or toyed with.
She said she was glad that the ministry was working with communities which practised harmful cultural practices, but whose attitudes towards change were in the positive direction.
Ms Obaid stressed the need to empower women economically, and pledged her outfit's commitment to support the ministry to help curb the growing population.
"There would be lots of opportunities for dialogue for the year 2005, and we are looking forward for fruitful working relationship," she said.