Almost 80,000 girls in Ghana aged between 12 and 17 years are already married or living with a man, data from the Ghana Statistical Service (GSS) has revealed.
It says nearly 26,000 of them are girls in Junior High School aged between 12 to 14 years.
The regions with the highest percentage of girls ever in union are North East (13.0%), Savannah (10.9%) and Northern (10.6%) all with rates more than twice the national average (4.0%).
Also, despite the free and compulsory universal basic education, almost a quarter of a million girls (244,731) aged 6 to 14 years have never attended school at all.
Three out of every 10 of these girls are in the Northern Region which has the highest number of girls who have never attended school (73,516) followed by the Savannah (27,930) and North East (22,857) regions.
These three regions also have the highest percentage of girls currently not attending school (never attended or attended in the past) with Savannah leading all regions with 40.2% followed by the North East Region (29.3%) and the Northern Region (28.5%).
The data is based on the 2021 Population and Housing Census and coincides with the International Day of the Girl Child which is being observed globally today.
The day seeks to highlight challenges preventing young girls from reaching their full potential, such as early marriage, and lack of access to educational and other opportunities.
Meanwhile, the Executive Director of the Africa Education Watch, Kofi Asare, says the data is enough proof that advocacy against child marriage must be stepped up.
“On International Day of the Girl 2022, we’ll have discussions on the need to strengthen the reporting and the response system of the state to child marriage.
“When child marriage issues happen, parents despise the girls, they abandon them because they have refused to accede to marriages that would have benefited the family,” he said.