Ghana has made significant inroads in creating systems and structures that have enabled the implementation of children’s rights to improve the welfare of children.
Mrs Della Sowah, a Deputy Minister of Gender, Children and Social Protection, who said this, noted that since 2005, various policies, pieces of legislation and institutional reforms had been carried out in line with the tenets of the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child (ACRWC).
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She was presenting Ghana’s Initial First and Second Consolidated Report on the implementation of the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child to the Committee on the Rights and Welfare of the Child at the 28th Ordinary Session of the African Union Commission in Banjul.
She indicated that the 1992 Constitution guaranteed the rights of children and enjoined Parliament to enact laws to further realise these rights and ensure the wellbeing of children.
In fulfilment of this provision, she said, Parliament had enacted the Children’s Act, Juvenile Justice Act , Human Trafficking Act, Disability Act, Whistle Blowers Act, Education Act, and the Criminal Offences (Amendment) Act 2012, among others.
Furthermore, the direct focus of the Ghana Shared Growth and Development Agenda is on children.
Mrs Sowah indicated that the key strategies for children included promoting advocacy and creating public awareness of the rights of children; formulation and implementation of key policies and appropriate programmes to enhance child protection and development, and incorporating children’s issues in development planning at all levels, especially those of children with special needs.
“To establish a child protection system that is ‘fit for Ghana’ and able to address the peculiar needs of children in Ghana, the Government adopted a Child and Family Welfare Policy (CFWP) on February, 19, 2015. The CFWP seeks to establish a well-structured and coordinated Child and Family Welfare system that promotes the wellbeing of children, prevents abuse and protects children from harm,” she stated.
In addition, she said, a Justice for Children Policy (JfCP), which sought to establish a well-structured and coordinated justice for a children’s system that promoted the wellbeing of children, prevented abuse, protected children from harm and promoted justice for children, had also been adopted.
The Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ) has also established a unit on children to address cases involving children and monitor the implementation of children’s rights. The commission conducts annual monitoring of various sector policies and their implementation.
“In fulfilment of its obligation under the ACRWC to protect and safeguard the rights and welfare of the child, the government has prioritised its interventions for girls, children with disabilities, children of asylum seekers, refugee children and children of immigrants, children exposed to sexual and gender-based violence, children living with HIV/AIDS and children living or working on the streets or both.
Mrs Sowah reported that birth registration in Ghana had improved from 17 per cent in 2002 to 58 per cent in 2015 while significant strides had also been made to criminalise female genital mutilation(FGM) and to tackle early/forced marriages.
Cash grants are also made to poor and vulnerable families to reduce childhood poverty.
“The Ministry of Gender, Children, and Social Protection has provided cash grants to a total of 411,990 beneficiaries across the country under the programme, of which 131,348 are children. Of the 169,790 vulnerable persons on the LEAP Register, 60,294 are children,’’ she explained.
In relation to improvement in access to education, Mrs Sowah said some of the measures undertaken were in partnership with the private sector implementation of the Ghana Partnerships for Education Grant (Capitation Grant), provision of free school uniforms and exercise books, school-feeding programme, scholarships for girls in junior high schools (JHSs), and provision of equipment to government vocational institutions and laptops to basic schools in all the 10 regions of the country.
Ghana, she said, still had challenges with child labour and efforts were being made to address them.
There are also challenges of financial, human and material resource constraints as well as structural limitations still to be addressed.
“ In spite of these challenges, a lot of significant achievements have been made to improve the rights and welfare of children through democracy and good governance which enabled strong government commitment and support for the implementation of child-focused programmes,” she emphasised.