, 20 November, 2020 / 9:05 PM
A nation-wide coalition of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in Ghana spearheaded by a church-based humanitarian institution has called on the Government of the West African nation to make the safeguarding of child rights a priority in 2021 and beyond ahead of the celebration of the 30th anniversary of the convention of the rights of the child to be marked Friday, November 20.
“We call on the Government of Ghana to commit to making sure all children in Ghana can enjoy their basic rights. Let us join forces and work together to achieve this laudable goal,” Sr. Olivia Umoh, Director of Safe-Child Advocacy (SCA), a humanitarian organization run by Ghana’s Archdiocese of Kumasi told ACI Africa Correspondent Tuesday, November 17.
Speaking on behalf of the coalition, the Catholic Nun said, “Thirty years ago, Ghana made a historic commitment by being the first country in the world to ratify the United Nations Convention on the rights of the child, an international agreement on childhood and the basic rights that every child is entitled to.”
She added, “It is up to our generation to demand that leaders from government and communities fulfil their responsibilities and take action for child rights now, once and for all.”
The Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) was adopted on 20 November 1989. It is the world’s most widely ratified human rights treaty, which sets out a basic, universal standard for a healthy, protected, decent childhood for all.
Ghana was the first country to sign the convention on 29 January 1990, and ratified it in February 1990.
Sr. Umoh noted that on December 7, eligible voters in Ghana will be electing a President and government and that the coalition was willing to work with whoever will be elected in government for the good of children in Ghana.
“Regardless of the outcome of the national elections, the coalition of NGOs is keen to work together with the newly elected President and government officials to make 2021 the year of the Children of Ghana,” Sr. Olivia said.
She lamented that to date, not every child in Ghana gets to enjoy a full childhood.
According to the member of the Daughters of Charity, too many children and youth are still deprived of their basic rights including the right to a safe home, the right to education and health care, the right to be protected from violence, maltreatment and abuse.
She further said that children living and working on the streets are particularly vulnerable.
According to Sr. Olivia, the coalition consists of a great number of professional organizations with many years of hands-on experience working with street-connected children and youth.
The Coalition is made of SCA, Centre for Development and Advocacy Policy-Ghana, Centre for Initiative Against Human Trafficking, Muslim Family Counselling Services, Service Awareness Support Organization, Song-Ba Empowerment Centre, Starlight Foundation, Urban Poor Child Organization, Vulnerable Aid Organization-Ghana, and Adamfo Ghana.
Sr. Olivia said that the organizations have knowledgeable members who are well-informed on the “issues at hand.”
“We look forward to (joining) hands with the Government of Ghana to develop a national action plan for street connected-children and the right time is now,” she said.
The Catholic Nun revealed to ACI Africa Correspondent that a poignant videoclip produced by the coalition to advocate for the right of children in the West African nation “vividly shows the bad situation that Ghana’s street connected children live in.”
“We produced the clip with good reason. Progress has been made since 1990, but there is more work to do,” she noted, adding, “It is unacceptable that in 2020, there are still thousands of children roaming the streets of Ghana.”
In the documentary put together by a coalition led by SCA, two children who have had first-hand experience of working and living on the streets narrate the challenges that children on the streets go through and express their awareness of children’s rights to education and protection.
A former victim of challenging conditions, poverty and abuse on the streets, 15-year Gladys Danson says in the video clip, “30 years ago, Ghana was the first country in the world to ratify the convention of the right of the Child, it gave to us the right to a safe home but too many of us are still sleeping on the streets.”
The Junior High School graduate who is a beneficiary of a SCA program said Ghana’s ratification of the Convention 30 years ago “is to give us right to education, to be free from child labor.”
“We have the right to get good health care, to be protected from abuse, violence and neglect but not to be trafficked, sold or married against our will,” Gladys says in the 2-minute video clip.
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