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18th July 2013, 05:20 AM
The Government Statistician, Dr Philomena Nyarko, has suggested that the legal marriage age should be increased from 18 to 23 years, to ensure that young women become physically, socially and psychologically prepared, before child bearing.

She indicated that this would not only prepare them for marriage, but also slow population growth by 15 to 20 per cent, in the country.

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Dr. Philomena Nyarko

Under the Children's Act, the legal minimum age for marriage is 18 years, but the Government statistician is optimistic that increasing it to 23 years would help the young ones, especially the females, to prepare adequately before raising a family.

Section 14 (2) of the Children Act, 1998 states that 'the minimum age of marriage of whatever age shall be 18 year’. Dr Nyarko raised these concerns Tuesday at the launch of the 5th African Youth and Governance Conference in Accra.

The two-day forum has the theme, "Youth inclusive governance: Harnessing Africa's demographic potential" is expected to have about 250 participants from 35 Africans countries and delegates from the European Youth Parliament.

She noted that there is the need for African countries, especially Ghana, to institute measure, against childbearing, to ensure better conditions and services through their limited resources.

"Lack of policies to lessen the continued high birth rates has contributed to the increasing birth by girls below the age of 15, as witnessed in the country," she noted.

Dr Nyarko stated that, in 2011, 12.3 percent of women aged between 15 and 19 years were found to have begun child bearing before age 15, which had health implications for of both infants and mothers.

"It is well known that health outcome for both mother and child improve, if pregnancy is delayed until when the young woman has matured for marriage an childbearing, to help save the lives of both mother and child," she said.

The Executive Director of Youth Bridge Foundation, Seth Oteng, said the forum would brainstorm on issues, which include the signing of the African Youth Charter.

He explained that, though most countries have ratified the Charter, which addresses how to improve the living conditions of the youth, some Africans countries, including Ghana, have failed to implement it.

Mr. Oteng noted that the forum would also brainstorm on how to establish the African Youth Parliament, to ensure that laws governing the youth are implemented.



Source: Ghanaian Times/Ghana