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TOPIC: “Sustaining Gender Parity: Child Pregnancy and Motherhood”

DATE : 21st - 22nd March, 2018

This conference is a collaborative initiative between the Ghana Association for Public Administration and Management (GAPAM) and the Ghana Institute of Management and Public Administration (GIMPA) with the support of African Association of Public Administration and Management (AAPAM). The Ghana Association for Public Administration and Management (GAPAM) is the local branch of the African Association of Public Administration and Management (AAPAM) founded in 1971 to promote and spearhead Best Practice, Excellence and Professionalism in Public Administration and Management in Africa. The Association among others is committed to capacity building for development and performance improvement activities in African Public Administration. It therefore provides a forum aimed at exchanging knowledge for those who practice, teach and conduct research or offer advisory services. The GIMPA Gender Development and Resource Centre (GDRC) is mandated to spearhead mainstreaming gender into GIMPA’s institutional level and all its programmes, in the area of training, research and education and to consolidate the gains achieved through earlier gender initiatives. The Centre is committed to fostering training programmes, research topics, educational and advocacy issues that sustain the UN Sustainable Developmental Goals (UNSDGs) on gender equality, enshrined in the Ghana’s National Social Protection Policy.

The Conference is borne out of a joint research between the Gender Centre, the Department of Social Welfare and the Ghana Health Services, undertaken in 2016, on Child Pregnancy and Reproductive Health. The research revealed that many of the environmental factors that impact on girls’ decision to have sex, and which often lead to pregnancy are ‘patriarchal designed factors’ that work to deny girls appropriate decision making power. Therefore, they become vulnerable to the consequential effect of pregnancy, which adversely derail their potential. With many parents lacking the economic empowerment to look after their children, the result for the girl children is early pregnancy and child marriage, which are detrimental to their future progress. 

The objectives of the conference is situated within the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Developmental Goal (SDGs) 5 and 1 and the Agenda 2063 for Africa. The SDGs 5 and 1 purpose to root out gender inequality and eradicate all forms and dimensions of poverty within the human race in order to secure our planet. The SDGs was constituted in 2012 at the United Nations Conference in Rio de Janeiro. A focus on the goals’ objectives since then has helped to free more than one billion people out of extreme poverty and placed more girls in school than before. The SDGs have indeed proven to be a positive tool to helping to curb gender inequality, but there is still a long way to go to making a complete eradication of poverty and gender parity a reality. Gender inequalities continues to persist, and progress across the globe has been uneven. With the introduction of the Agenda 2063 in 2015, the need to transform the socio-economic condition of Africa through African initiatives has been highlighted.

Thus, this conference is designed to promote affirmative action that reduces gender disparity towards national development. In particular, the mandate of the organizing Institution, (the Ghana Institute of Management and Public Administration, GIMPA) and the Ghana Association for Public Administration and Management (GAPAM) are set to champion the objectives Public Services, they channeled theobjectives of the conference towards raising awareness on the need for Institutions, organisations and other agencies to champion the SDGs through positive action-oriented initiatives. Participating Institutions, Organisations, Governments Agencies, Firms, Professionals, Expertise and individuals are called to embrace the Agenda 2063 as a means of tackling the socio economic issues with their attendant effect on social injustices, which often impact negatively on the advancement of men and women towards sustainable national development.

The conference seeks to highlight the importance of research in curbing child-pregnancy and ensuring gender equality in the sub-Saharan Africa and the world, with emphasis on Ghana. It aims at providing an international forum where participants can discuss ideas, exchange information and share experiences on research findings. The purpose is to prompt discussions on some of the hindrance to gender equality in Ghana in particular, and in sub-Saharan Africa and the world in general. It looks at trends and challenges related to gender equality; consider intervention measures and schemes, and training programs; and how the dynamics of academic research must influence national policy in tackling child pregnancy and motherhood.

The invitation to attend the conference is extended to researchers, academics, administrators, policy-makers, practitioners, human rights advocates, lawyers, legislators, regulators, institutions, civil societies, associations and companies, and students involved in gender related activities.


When a girl becomes pregnant, her present and future change radically, and rarely for the better. Her education may end, her job prospects evaporate, and her vulnerabilities to poverty, exclusion and dependency multiply(UNFPA, 2013, ii).

Over the years approaches to tackling teenage pregnancy have mainly focused on preventive interventional measures. Often, some of these preventive measures, particularly, those that have to do with contraception, are met with opposition from religious and cultural leaders. Most schools are reluctant to allow Regional Health Directorate into their premises with contraception plans (Citi FM ONLINE, Sunday, March 5, 2017). Similar preventive strategies are often targeted at behavioural change, but attention is mostly focused on girls who are blamed as being responsible for their plight. However, as research confirms (Akua-Sakyiwah, Mawudoku, Foley, Beyuo, Asante, Marko-Lartey et al, 2016; UNFPA, 2013) these are misconceptions that fail to take recognition of the real circumstances and societal pressures that work against adolescent girls and make motherhood a likely possibility, during transition from childhood to adulthood.

A Policy on Child and Family Welfare (article 28) and the Children’s Act (560, Section 1, constituted in 1992, and 1998 respectively, recognise a child as a person below the age of 18. In line with the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, this Constitution acknowledges that at this age, children are largely dependent on adults to protect them and to provide their necessities of life. If the Constitution is to uphold its mandate, then girl children need to be protected from that which denies them the right to quality life. Importantly, this policy promises social protection and system strengthening to improve policies and legislation, and to set up structures that support social norms. It also advocates instituting responsive social action that monitors and manages social and economic resources that ensure that all children have the right to a life free from violence, abuse, exploitation and neglect. However, these measures are yet to be translated into the real experiences of most girl-children who face sexual challenges that stem from economic difficulties, family issues, and limited access to social resources and information, etc.

Current trends in child pregnancy (see GNA Report of Asipong, Western Region of Ghana, 2017); suggest a worse scenario that seems to render many girl-children vulnerable to poverty and permanent dependency. This requires policy adjustment, proactive advocacy and action-oriented measures to tackle the situation. For instance, recent data by the Ghana Health Service (GHS) suggests that 2015 alone recorded 10,000 teenage pregnancies in Ghana. Asante Region, BrongAhafo Region, Greater Accra Region, Western Region recorded the highest percentage (Ghana News, Wednesday 27 July 2016). Again, statistical records available at the beginning of 2016 disclosed an alarming increase. The Upper East Region had recorded 5,587 adolescent pregnancies representing 15.4% for the year 2016, with 2.1% occurring among adolescents between the ages of 10 and 19 years. This makes the region, the highest record in teenage pregnancy. Again, the report by the Ghana Health Service on antenatal care registrants for 2016 recorded115 pregnancy cases among teenagers between the ages of 10-14. Among the adolescents between 14-19 years, the number was 5,474. This shows an indicative increase from 5,518 to 5,564 adolescent pregnancy cases recorded 2015 and 2016. The Volta Region recorded the second highest of 10,296 pregnancies, representing 15.0%. The BrongAhafo and Eastern regions recorded 14% respectively, whilst Central, Upper West and Western Regions recorded 13% each {respectively}. Northern and Ashanti regions had 11% each, with Greater Accra Region recording the lowest adolescent pregnancy rate of 6%. The Nabdam district in the Upper East Region recorded the highest teenage pregnancy rate of 21.1%, and Bawku municipal area, recorded the lowest rate of 11.5%.

The increase in trends of teen/child pregnancies suggests a damaging effect on the right of girls to the freedom of life stipulated in the Convention of Children and hence requires drastic measures to address the epidemic before many more girl-children’s future are left in jeopardy. In Ghana, there is a child protection system that seeks to close the gap between the formal and the informal issues affecting children, suggested in the Child Protection Policy (Child Protection Policy, 2015) that needs to be applied.

A collaborative research conducted by the Gender Centre revealed that many of the environmental factors that impact on girls’ decision to have sex, and which often lead to pregnancy are ‘patriarchal designed factors’ that work to deny girls appropriate decision making power. Therefore, they become vulnerable to the consequential effect of pregnancy, which adversely derail their potential.

With many parents lacking the economic empowerment to look after their children, the result for the girl children is early pregnancy and child marriage, which are detrimental to their future progress.What is most noteworthy is that the boys/men do not see it necessary to communicate their intensions to the girls because they are men and their decision holds final (Akua-Sakyiwah, Mawudoku, Foley, Beyuo, Asante and Marko-Lartey, 2016).  This is a clear picture of patriarchal practices and norms designed to influence men’s decisions and actions that often impact negatively on women. Living in a typical male dominated environment, the boys have learnt from the early stage that it is men that take decisions pertaining to the family, and they have internalised this supremacy. Although exercising this decision affects girls in a most profound way, they do not consider the negative consequences that this will have on girls’ future.

Unfortunately, most research on early pregnancy focuses on teenage pregnancy, rather than child pregnancy, when children as young as 9-12 are getting pregnant at an alarming rate and becoming ‘mothers’(Citi FM Online, 2016, GNA, April 11th, 2016; Reproductive and Child Health {RCH} Annual Report, 2010). The danger of not focusing on age difference is that it shifts attention from the needs of children and their developmental agenda. This denies them the opportunity to develop their full potential into proper adulthood. In Ghana, it problematizes the mandate of the Policy on Social Protection that also defines and sets appropriate age boundary for the Ghanaian child at ‘under 18 years’, and promises social protection for their rights and wellbeing. This contributes to the huge statistical records on child marriage (UNICEF Style Book, 2013), with its attendant socio-economic and psychological effect on the girl child. The health implications that eventually affect their sexual reproductive health, including the high mortality rate, need urgent attention.

This knowledge gap in literature may potentially affect the way in which theories about children in Ghana are conceptualised. It may lead to objectifying perspectives on this subject, thereby silencing the voices of those who are affected by it. As the situation stands now, child pregnancy has become a vicious cycle where children are mothering children who will end up repeating the same cycle of their parents. Most of the research participants are a product of the same vicious cycle. This situation needs urgent redress.

This conference, thus, provides a forum where participants will explore new ways of thinking about child/teenage pregnancy. It is a wakeup call to researchers to embark on projects and studies that will foreground other dimension of social injustices in the way they affect men and women. It brings together, policy makers, other government agencies, organisations, personnel and agencies that deal with young persons’ issues, communities/elders, families and schools/institutions, etc., to re-examine how factors such as poverty, gender inequality, discrimination, lack of access to services, and negative views about girls and women, create continual challenges that result in child/teenage pregnancy. It is also designed to facilitate the pursuit of social justice, equitable development and the empowerment of girls to help find right ways that society can deal with child/teenage pregnancies.


Focusing on child pregnancy and motherhood, it looks at the role of power differences among genders, races, classes, sexualities and age, and how these are mediated through patriarchal machinery to position and create ‘other’ (ness). The conference seeks to unearth some of the measures taken, in both past and present, to prevent discrimination and exclusion in all sectors of our society. It considers how cultural factors, including artistic expressions, journalistic approaches, media representations, policy-making and individuals’ responses to contemporary social challenges are impacted by patriarchal norms and practices. Thus, the conference examines how the activities of child/teenage sex are socially constructed to victimise and marginalise others. 

The questions that the conference seeks to answer include, ‘what factors impact child pregnancy and motherhood, and how are these used as discriminatory machinery to create barriers for girls to fully participate as developmental or change agents’?

The conference is posited within inter-disciplinary context involving the Social Sciences, Humanities, Law, Business, Education, etc., to explore relationships between, and experiences of, male and females. Thus, the following frameworks will be adopted, among others: Gender analysis; Feminism; Patriarchy; Neo-liberalism; Human Rights; Constructionists; Postmodernism; Gender and Security; Historiography; Legal Analysis; Policy Analysis; Group/Organizational Analysis; Political Economy, and Political Analysis. Broad range of issues will form the basis of the conference including histories and experiences of women and men,  sexualities and sexual identity, masculinities, femininities, gender systems, national policy formulation and implementation, gender and education, employment, poverty, family life, culture, religion, workplace, sports, technology, health, science, etc. and their effects on men/women, girls’ and boys’.