04.04.2005 Regional News

10,000 'Kayayei' in Accra

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It has been noted that about 10,000 girls in Accra, the capital town of Ghana are engaged in 'kaya' business (running errands).

Minister of Women and Children's Affairs Hajia Alima Mahama said about 5,000 more are living in Ashaiman a suburb of Accra and about 10,000 could also be found in Kumasi, one of the largest cities in Ghana.

Opening the 16th General Assembly of the Future African Federation in Accra late last week, the Minister said the most worrying aspect is the lack of shelter for these girls. She said this makes them susceptible to HIV/AIDS through the commercial sex they indulge in.

The occasion dubbed "Triple-Do" was also used to celebrate the 20th and 10th anniversaries respectively of Accra Clubs One and Two of Soroptimist International Clubs. It was under the theme, "Human Rights and Girl Child Development in Ghana".

Hajia Mahama charged them to come out with a strategy on women and children to be factored into the government's development programmes.

She described the issue of kayayei together with streetism as a threat to the national development agenda, "because looking at the situation in the country as of now, when you send them back they would return to these same places."

She called for a critical look at addressing the problem and its origin - especially in the three Northern Regions - where most of these girls come from. "We should find out why these children are coming to Accra and reconsider programmes in the regions to arrest this problem".

She said women should take up the challenge to educate their girl children and not let them feel inferior to the boy children. She said, even though politics might be seen as unpleasant, she asked women to face the challenge of getting more women into politics.

Hajia Alima Mahama said it is the responsibility of each and everyone to protect and educate children in the society because they serve as the mirror of how the nation would look like in future.

On reproductive health, she said about 92% of antenatal centres have been covered to give free antenatal care to women.

She said women should aim high and move from micro entrepreneurship into more productive and big ventures.

The Minister assured that by the close of the year, the Domestic Violence Bill would be passed. She noted that spousal rape is one issue that is delaying the passage of the bill.

President of the Accra Club One of Soroptimist International Madam Sheila Clinton enumerated some of the social assistance the clubs in Accra and Kumasi have rendered to some communities in Ghana.

She said, "we as Soroptimists Worldwide believe in showing our hearts to the world and embracing the less privileged in our society and ensure that we maintain high ethical standards, advancing the status of women and contributing to universal friendship."

She said over 20 young ladies have benefited from scholarship programmes by the Club in areas such as interior decoration, dressmaking, catering and hairdressing.

Madam Clinton said the Club has acquired a 10.5-acre tract of land for afforestation and has planted over 1000 trees. "The club, by this deed, tried to pursue afforestation and not the familiar deforestation which is associated with African countries," she said.

Professor Kwadwo Asenso-Okyere, Vice Chancellor University of Ghana said even though girls education in the basic level is high, it is comparatively lower at the tertiary level.

He said for this reason, the University of Ghana has putting up measures to increase the enrollment of more females in the university. He said accommodation facilities for the females have been increased on campus, which he said are still not enough.

"We have moved from 20 to 40% enrollment of females and our desire is to achieve a ratio of 50:50 enrollment in the university."

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