First Lady Rebecca Akufo-Addo has launched yet another initiative aimed at providing educational and social safety nets for poor and vulnerable girls in nine communities along the coastal belt of the Greater Accra Region.

The ‘Because I Want To Be’ project of the Rebecca Foundation will, among others, ensure uninterrupted education for girls and provide skills training for young women who have dropped out of school to secure their economic future.

Unveiling the project at the Wesley Methodist Church at Palladium in Accra, Founder of The Rebecca Foundation, Mrs. Akufo-Addo, said the project, a collaborative initiative with the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), will provide safety for the poor and vulnerable school girls and drop-outs who because of their predicament may be susceptible to the entrapments of menial jobs like head porters (‘kaya yei’) and social vices like teenage pregnancy and prostitution.

This initiative, she said, seeks to ensure the continuous “education of our girls, with the aim of leaving no one behind. Girls who have dropped out of school or at risk of dropping out will be identified and supported to ensure they stay in school. Those who cannot will be supported to acquire an income generating skill.”

“The challenges to educating our girls remain daunting, ranging from financial constraints to social and cultural injustices. The remedies to these multifaceted and interrelated issues must be policy-based and will require an active involvement of our communities,” Mrs. Akufo-Addo emphasized.

She said it is undisputable that education has been the best weapon for breaking the vicious cycle of poverty in most families, thus, the need to ensure that schoolchildren, especially girls, are given all the opportunity, including financial assistance, to realise their full potential while providing vocational skill training to those who were unlucky to drop out of school.

According to Mrs. Akufo-Addo, with the introduction of the Free SHS policy to complement the Basic School Capitation Grant, the stage has been set for all parents, especially mothers, to ensure that they take full advantage of the many education-friendly policies of government by putting and supporting their children to climb the academic ladder as a way of climbing out of the dark hole of poverty.

She said The Rebecca Foundation would continue work to make a difference in the lives of women and children by initiating and supporting projects which would champion their well-being and advancement.

Addressing the launch, Dr. Robert Mensah, a reproductive health specialist with the UNFPA, said the ‘Because I Want To Be’ project is a wonderful initiative which would not only afford adolescents the opportunity to complete their education or acquire vocational skills, but even more importantly, would create the fertile platform for them to develop to their full potential, believe in themselves and break the shackles of poverty.

He added that the improvement of girls’ enrolment in schools across the country is an important indicator of socio-economic development as it captures goal number 4 target 4.1 of the Sustainable Development Goals because of its transformational impact on society.

Dr. Mensah assured of the UNFPA’s continuous support of The Rebecca Foundation as she continues to implement projects and programmes that impact positively on the larger society, especially women and children, stating that it is on similar principles that the UNFPA operates.