The Minister of Employment and Labour Relations, Mr Ignatius Baffour Awuah, has called for a concerted action to deal with the increasing rate of child labour in Ghana.
According to the Ghana Living Standard Survey (GLSS6), 21.8 per cent Ghanian children were into child labour, a situation the minister described as unacceptable.
He was speaking at a regional workshop for rural workers and small producer organisations to exchange experiences of fighting against child labour.
It was organised by the General Agriculture Workers’ Union (GAWU), of the Trades Union Congress (TUC), in collaboration with the International Labour Organisation (ILO) and the Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO).
Statistics from the ILO also indicate that almost half of child labourers, that is 72.1 million victims of the 152 million child labourers worldwide, are found in Africa.
In terms of prevalence, Mr Awuah said the statistics showed that one in five children in Africa (that is 19.6 per cent) were child labourers compared to between three per cent and seven per cent prevalence in other regions of the world.
He said: “Ironically, many African countries have ratified the conventions on forced labour, child labour and discrimination, with many of our national laws proscribing child labour in all its forms.”
“In Ghana, for example, issues of child labour have further been mainstreamed in our national and sub-national implementation plans, not forgetting sector-specific programmes and projects being driven by government and private sector partners and other stakeholders to address the menace,” he added.
He stated that the scenario was frightening and called for renewed, intensified and concerted effort if the country was to achieve the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) target 8.7, which aims at eradicating forced labour, among others.
Pay greater attention
Mr Awuah, therefore, called on the world, especially Africa, to pay greater attention to child labour in agriculture and to dedicate greater resources to solving the problem, saying without this commitment, investing in Africa’s human capital for peace and development, the fulcrum of the African Union (AU) agenda 206, will be a facade.
According to him, the onus is on the government, employers, workers, parents, civil society organisations, the media and the international community to support policy responses that strengthen social protection and fundamental human rights.
The General Secretary of GAWU, Mr Edward Kareweh, said GAWU as a union started its child labour struggle in 2004 and added that the workshop provided an opportunity to share ideas with other unions and also look at the way forward.