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L3R 8G6

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L3R 8G6

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Girls in Ghana forced to surrender their health and freedom

International Women’s Day shouldn’t be just one day. Start the conversation to protect girls in developing countries from child marriage

By William Anim-Dankwa, communications manager, Ghana

Ayishetu (not pictured), 23, has five children, ranging in age from nine to eight months. Married at 14, she is the third wife of a farmer. Child marriages like hers are common in rural villages in the Northern Region of Ghana where she lives.

Yet, Ayishetu is lucky. Even though she gave birth in her adolescence, she and her children are healthy. In similar cases, there are miscarriages, stillborn babies, babies with low birth weights and long-term illnesses. Mothers face the prospect of anemia, postpartum hemorrhaging and even death.

So many girls are at risk. In fact, 21 percent of women between the age of 20 and 24 in Ghana were married or in a union by the age of 18, according to UNICEF.

The numbers paint a gloomy picture. However, Christian Children’s Fund of Canada (CCFC) in collaboration with the Accra, Ghana-based Canada Fund for Local Initiatives, have implemented programs to help children, who don’t have an education and are prone to early, forced marriages. We’re providing skills-training that will build career opportunities.

CCFC has also rolled out child-protection programs with UNICEF to spread awareness in schools, communities and among thought leaders. The goal is to prevent girls from early, forced marriages. So far, many have been rescued from this fate, and there’s a new hope.

Now, Ayishetu believes her daughters are not necessarily destined to becoming child brides, but first her community must commit to embracing change and taking child rights seriously.

As you celebrate International Woman’s Day this week, remember Ayishetu. Use your voice to affect change. Visit us on Facebook and Twitter to have your say.

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About Christian Children's Fund of Canada:

Christian Children's Fund of Canada (CCFC) is a child-focused international development organization and a member of ChildFund Alliance. For more than 50 years, CCFC has been helping children and families of all faiths move from poverty to self-reliance. CCFC supports children and communities in Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, Ghana, India, Nicaragua and Paraguay. Currently, CCFC has almost 50,000 children sponsored, benefiting nearly 400,000 people around the world.