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Appoint substantive Gender Minister - African body urges govt

BY: Augustina Tawiah
 Hermine Kembo Takam (arrowed), ACERWC Country Rapporteur for Ghana, with some of the participants after the conference. Among them is Dr Afisah Zakariah (5th from left), Chief Director, Ministy of Gender, Children and Social Protection. Picture: ELVIS NII NOI DOWUONA
Hermine Kembo Takam (arrowed), ACERWC Country Rapporteur for Ghana, with some of the participants after the conference. Among them is Dr Afisah Zakariah (5th from left), Chief Director, Ministy of Gender, Children and Social Protection. Picture: ELVIS NII NOI DOWUONA

The African Committee of Experts on the Rights and Welfare of the Child (ACERWC) Country Rapporteur for Ghana, Hermine Kembo Takam, has called on the government to address the issue of a non-substantive Minister for the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection (MoGCSP).

She explained the absence of a substantive minister had slowed down the various processes that were being engaged in regarding the welfare, rights and protection of children.

"A person sitting in for the minister doesn't at times facilitate processes concerning some of these things. Wherever we went during our visit, the issue of a substantive minister came up as a key issue because it is blocking the system. Everybody is waiting, a lot is being done, but the process is not moving to the end because of this," she explained.

Mrs Takam and her team of six from the ACERWC were in the country to follow up on what the government had done regarding some recommendations it made to the country following a combined report Ghana submitted to the committee in 2014 about the state of its child welfare, rights and protection.

ACERWC’s mandate

The ACERWC draws its mandate from Articles 32-46 of the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child.

The committee's main functions are to collect information, interpret provisions of the charter, give recommendations to governments for working with child rights organisations, consider individual complaints about violations of children's rights and investigate measures adopted by member states to implement the charter.

The committee also monitors the implementation of the charter and one of the ways the monitoring is done, is through reporting processes from state parties.

Ghana submitted a combined report to the committee in 2014 and in 2016. The committee analysed that report and made recommendations which were released in 2017. The team was, therefore, in the country to follow up on the recommendations.

As part of the visit to the country, the team spoke to government officials, the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ), children, development partners and civil society organisations. And in all the discussions, Mrs Takam said one of the issues that came up prominently that needed to be taken on board quickly was the absence of a substantive minister for the MoGCSP.

Under-funding

She said another observation they made was the fact that the child protection system in the country was under-funded and under-resourced.

Mrs Takam called for allocation to the sector to be increased from the current 0.5 per cent to two per cent, adding that, when that happened, there would be changes in the sector.

"We have been made to know by various stakeholders that you are one of the least resourced ministries in the country.

“The more resourced the ministry, the better it would yield fruits in terms of rolling out programmes for the less privileged in the country.

Development should not come to us as building infrastructure but taking care of the people and investing in them," she said.

Concerns being addressed

Responding to the observations made, the Chief Director of MoGCSP, Dr Afisah Zakariah, said they were working on some of the concerns raised.

Regarding teenage pregnancy, she said through community sensitisation programmes and the School Health Education Programme (SHEP), they educated children as well as their parents and guardians on the subject.

On funding for the sector, she said on the side of the government, the ministry would advocate an increased allocation while for the development partners, it would always welcome their help.