Accra, June 13, GNA – The Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection, on Tuesday organised a press briefing on the commemoration of the Day of the African Child (DAC), an event observed on June 16 each year.
The 2017 celebrations highlight the need for accelerating protection, empowerment and equal opportunity for children in Africa by 2030.
Ms Gifty Twum-Ampofo, the Deputy Minister for Gender, Children and Social Protection, said the day presented an opportunity for all stakeholders working with and on behalf of children, including government, non-governmental and international entities, to reflect on issues affecting children in the sub-region.
She said the DAC was also an opportune moment to take stock of the progress made and the outstanding challenges towards the full realisation of the rights of children on the African Continent.
Ms Twum-Ampofu, who gave a little background to the occasion, said it was initiated by the then Organisation of African Unity, now the African Union, and had been commemorated since 1991 to, among other things, honour the memory of the gallant children who were killed by security forces in Soweto, South Africa for protesting to demand for their rights to quality education in 1976.
She said the African Committee decided to highlight and give attention to the 2030 agenda for Sustainable Development, hence the theme: ‘The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development for Children in Africa: Accelerating Protection, Empowerment, and Equal Opportunity’.
Ghana, she said, had achieved a lot in terms of accelerating protection, empowerment and equal opportunity for children and cited interventions including the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) and investments in physical and social infrastructure which played a considerable role in ensuring a reduction in poverty and achieving better human development outcomes especially for children.
Ms Twum-Ampofu said fortunately, the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) had evolved into the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and any unfinished business could be addressed within the new context.
Ghana, in line with the MDGs and other international protocols, had strengthened the child protection arena with the formulation of the Child and Family Welfare, as well as the Justice for Children Policies.
It has also started the processes to review its domestic child laws in the light of the SDGs and the African Charter to ensure child rights-based policies, practices and programmes, that did not in any way undermine the equality of children, particularly the girl-child and other vulnerable groups.
She said gender equality was also crucial for achieving all other SDGs including eradicating hunger and poverty.
Ms Twum-Ampofu said as a treaty body the African Committee was also seeking to draw attention to the fact that the so called ‘priority SDG targets and indicators for children’ should be brought closer to the African Charter reporting cycle.
She said ensuring empowerment and equal opportunity required targeting all socio-economic groups in order to ensure that no child was left behind with particular focus on prioritising the rights and needs of the poorest and most marginalised.
Ms Twum-Ampofu said in line with this interventions programmes such as the Free Compulsory Universal Basic Education, the Free Senior Secondary Education, School Feeding Programme, Capitation Grant, as well as the Livelihood Empowerment Against Poverty interventions were being pursued by government.
She said although a lot was being done, there was still more to be achieved and called on stakeholders to join hands to make the continent a fitting place for all children to live.
Mrs Emilia Allan, a Child Protection Specialist at UNICEF, said there was more that could be done for children and pledged UNICEF’s commitment to work with governments and civil society organisations on accelerating their protection, empowerment and ensuring their equal opportunities.
By Christabel Addo, GNA