From the seat of government to the shantytowns... the Deputy Executive Director of UNFPA walks the talk.

16 October 2018
UNFPA Deputy E D, Dereje Wordofa and Vice President of Ghana Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia (second and third from left respectively) in a group photo with other UNFPA Seniour Officials

On the sidelines of the just ended AADPD+5 summit in Accra, the Deputy Executive Director (DED) of UNFPA, Dereje Wordofa, paid a number of courtesy calls to the President, the Vice President, the wife of the Vice President and some Ministers of State. He also visited two of UNFPA projects in Accra.

During his high-level courtesy calls, the key message that ran through Mr. Wordofa’s conversation with his hosts was ‘seeing an Africa where the girl child stays in school, is able to complete her education and has the ability to make right and informed choices for her wellbeing’.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration, was the first point of call for Mr. Wordofa and his entourage that included, Mr. Mabingue Ngom, the West and Central Africa Director, Dr.  Julitta Onabanjo, East and Southern Africa Director and other seniour officials of UNFPA. Hon. Shirley Ayorkor-Botchway, the Minister in her welcome statement, stressed the need for girls and women empowerment. She said she was pleased with the work of UNFPA because its interventions are focused on the vulnerable, particularly women. Mr. Wordofa outlined the three transformational goals of UNFPA as;

    1. End unmet need for family planning,
    2. End preventable maternal death, and
    3. End gender-based violence and harmful practices

And said these goals are all focused on the welfare of girls and women. Both the Minister and the Deputy Director of UNFPA agreed that focusing on the girl child is critical for the welfare and economic sustainability of the nation. There was mutual agreement between the Deputy Executive Director and the Minister as both of them called for greater attention to be given to the adolescent girl in Ghana.

The Deputy Executive Director continued his courtesy calls to the Jubilee House, the seat of the Presidency, where he interacted with HE Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo the President of the Republic of Ghana. Mr. Wordofa was accompanied the AU Commissioner for Social Affairs HE Amira Elfadil. Their discussions focused on investing in family planning as a means of harnessing the Demographic Dividend.  The Deputy Executive Director used the opportunity to congratulate the President on the launch of the AU Roadmap on Harnessing the Demographic Dividend through Investments in Youth and his own Strategic Roadmap for Harnessing the Demographic Dividend in Ghana. He also acknowledged the President’s leadership in Africa as the gender champion for other countries.

Walking the talk, Mr. Wordofa and his entourage made their way to the Agbogbloshie Market in Accra which is infamous for its dense population, filth and the poor living conditions, to interact with vulnerable young girls who are head porters, popularly referred to as ‘Kayayei’  in local parlance;  and their children. Here, the team was welcomed with traditional drumming and dancing as they make their way to a day care center―Future First Academy―set up for children of the head porters―‘kayayei’.   The fascinating story about the center is that, it was started by someone who grew in the slums; had benefitted from UNFPA programmes, and who decided to give back to the community by volunteering to teach and take care of the little children whilst their mothers went about their daily activities.

From Agbogbloshie, Mr. Wordofa’s group went to the Ussher Polyclinic in Accra to interact with the nurses and some beneficiaries of a UNFPA-supported skills center for adolescent girls.  The center was set up to equip girls from the community with livelihood skills amidst providing them with comprehensive sexuality education and services. Most the girls at the center had dropped out of school due to teenage pregnancy hence the intervention to give them a second chance to achieve their dreams. 

Deputy ED, Dereje Wordofa looks on as an adolescent girl busily works on a dress

The Deputy Executive Director also paid a visit to the wife of the Vice President HE Mrs. Samira Bawumia and the Minister of Gender, Children and Social Protection all in the quest to get firsthand information on the various interventions of UNFPA in Ghana.

The last but not the least was the debrief session with the Vice President of the Republic, HE Dr, Mahamudu Bawumia. Mr. Wordofa took time to give the Vice President a snapshot of the work UNFPA carries out in Ghana and how the Fund remains committed to ending unmet need for family planning, ending preventable maternal deaths and ending sexual and gender based violence against women and harmful practices. The latter maintained that the UN and its agencies have been of crucial help to Ghana and UNFPA’s support will equally be crucial ahead of the next Population and Housing Census to be conducted in Ghana by 2020. Mr. Wordofa reiterated the commitment of UNFPA towards supporting development planning and stressed it was imperative that the Government of Ghana equally invested resources into family planning to be able to achieve the demographic dividend. 

The last but not the least of the Deputy Executive Director’s visits was to the Ghana Country Office of UNFPA, where he interacted with staff and interns including national service persons. He congratulated the Ghana CO for engaging young people and for achieving gender parity in the workplace.