The Minister for Gender, Children and Social Protection, Ms Otiko Afisah Djaba has called on Cocoa farmers in Ghana to prioritise their children’s education and desist from using them as “labourers” on their farms.
She said the core responsibility of every parent was to send their children to school, protect them from harm, abuses, child marriage, child trafficking, kayaye and child prostitution and not to engage them in hard labour.
Ms Djaba was speaking at the 2017 Mondelez International Cocoa Life Learning Conference in Accra on Thursday.
The 2017 Mondelez International Cocoa Life Learning Conference is on the theme: “Women Empowerment: the Mondelez International Cocoa Life Strategy for Sustainable Cocoa Production in Ghana”.
The objective is to provide evidence of best practices to enable participants to develop innovative strategies, measures and ideas that would strengthen and empower women in the cocoa supply chain in Ghana.
She condemned the frequent manner in which the rights of Ghanaian children were abused including; denial of education and encouraged the farmers to take advantage of the Free Compulsory Universal Basic Education and the Free Senior High School education policy by the Government of Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo to educate their children.
She described as “criminal” for any parent to deny a child formal education and that it was punishable by law and attracted a penalty of one year imprisonment or a fine of GhC500.00 or both.
“Children are the future leaders of our country and it is the duty of those of us in leadership; traditional rulers, religious leaders, parents and the society at large to develop them for the future.”
The Gender Minister charged men in the Cocoa Industry to create a strong partnership with their wives and ensure equitable distribution of every wealth they jointly generated from their cocoa farms.
She also denounced situations where the male cocoa farmers sidelined their hardworking wives who had labored with them and decided to marry new wives, showering them with expensive gifts and built houses or bought cars at the neglect of their legitimate wives.
Ms Djaba called for total respect for women, their protection and participation in social, economic and political development of Ghana.
She said women formed greater percentage of Ghana’s population (51 per cent), and that their voices must be heard and be allowed to fully participate in every decision making that affect them.
Ms Djaba urged women of Ghana to take advantage of the various pro-poor policies of the New Patriotic Party Government and appealed to the various traditional rulers to make lands available for women for agricultural and other economic activities especially those interested in the Planting for Food and Jobs initiative of the Government.
She affirmed government’s commitment to empower more Ghanaian women to become business women or entrepreneurs and economic leaders to enable them contribute meaningfully to the economic development of Ghana.
The Minister called on the leaders of the Cocoa Industry, especially, Cocoa Life to develop a women friendly cocoa value chain that would encourage more women to venture into farming.
The Mondelez International Cocoa Life is the cocoa sustainability programme of the Mondelez International, established in Ghana in 2008 with a vision of empowering, thriving, cocoa communities as the essential foundation for sustainable cocoa”.