First National Inter -Faith Dialogue on Comprehensive Sexuality Education held in Ghana

19 November 2018

Most people all over the world look up to religious leaders for guidance, directions or inspiration especially when they are venturing into new and unfamiliar areas. Religious leaders are believed to have the charisma and the ability to lead their followers to step into the unknown with ease. They are an essential social support for many adolescents in their everyday lives. Faith-Based Organizations have unique relationships with young adolescents and teenagers in the society and it is evident the world over.

UNFPA, recognizes this unique role of religious leaders, and for this reason, partnered with the Ministry of Chieftaincy and Religious Affairs and held the first ever inter faith dialogue on comprehensive sexuality education (CSE), under the theme: “The Power of Choice “with support from the Canadian High Commission.

Welcoming the participants, the UNFPA Ghana Country Representative, Niyi Ojuolape,   indicated that the conference is the beginning of series of dialogues to be organised as part of the processes of creating an enabling environment for young people in general and the adolescent girl in particular with regards to comprehensive sexuality education. He said this move is in line with the three transformational goals of the UNFPA which is to end unmet need for family planning, end preventable maternal death and also end violence and harmful practices against women and girls. It also focuses on the overall goals of the UN.

Mr Ojuolape emphasized that the CSE will equip adolescent girls with the requisite information on sexual and reproductive health and right for a better adolescence experience. He called on the religious leaders to get involved especially in delivering comprehensive sexuality education within their jurisdiction to enable young girls to be more informed on the choices available to them for a better life.

The Canadian High Commissioner to Ghana Mrs. Heather Cameron remarking on the theme said  ”the power of choice resonates  for all of us here desiring to reduce barriers to create opportunities and to enable choices that will create a better future for individual boys and girls, better future for families, the community and Ghana as a whole”.   She emphasized that poverty is the absence of choice and believes that promoting gender equality will break the cycle of poverty.

The Canadian High Commissioner to Ghana Ms Heather Cameron addressing the gathering
The Canadian High Commissioner to Ghana Ms Heather Cameron addressing the gathering

The Deputy Minister of Chieftaincy and Religious Affairs, Paul Essien took his turn to address the participants as the Guest speaker  and said “fertility is generally higher among women with less education than among women with at least secondary education.  It is therefore prudent for countries to review demographic policies as a nation to ensure they enhance reproductive rights and empower individuals to realize their own fertility goals” he concluded.

Participants at the conference were drawn from the ten regions of Ghana, comprising of members of the Christian Council Ghana, Ghana Pentecostal and Charismatic Council, National Catholic Secretariat, Regional Chief Imams, office of the National Chief Imam, office of the Ameer of Ahmadiyya Mission in Ghana, the clergy in academia, Civil Society Organisations as well as individuals with interest in the subject matter.

The opportunity was also used to launch the 2018 State of World Population (SWOP) report with a call on governments to develop and invest in family planning programmes that aim to achieve zero unmet need for family planning services no later than 2030 to help attain the SDGs.