Ghana happens to be the first country to sign the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) in 1990.
29 years down the lane, the Government of Ghana (GoG) still does not fully comply with what the Committee of the CRC has observed Ghana needs to do for vulnerable children.
According to the Committee, Ghana needs to “Prioritize and substantially increase the budgetary allocations in the social sectors, ensuring implementation of the economic, social and cultural rights of children, particularly for the improvement of health-care services, education and protection of vulnerable groups of children.”
On the domestic front the 2016 NPP Manifesto stated that, as a party it “remains committed to gender equality and children’s rights” and will pursue full implementation of relevant Acts including the Human Trafficking Acts.
Furthermore, in his submission to the Ghanaian Parliament, on his government’s Coordinated
Programme for Economic and Social Development Policies (2017-2024), President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo stated that, “technical and financial resources will be prioritized at all levels, to ensure effective implementation of child protection and family welfare programmes.”
He could have proven to the whole country that, indeed his government was very committed to child protection, but out of GH¢ 72.6 budget allocated for child protection in 2017, only 33.1% was disbursed.
It is on the backdrop of this challenging issue that the 2019 Ghana NGO Forum was organized by OAfrica, in partnership with the Ghana NGOs Coalition on the right of the child. The event which was dubbed, “Child Protection: Whose Responsibility? was funded by the European Union.
The organizing committee of the project in a communique at the event which took place on 1st October, 2019, at the University of Ghana BoG Auditorium, said, “Although a lot of work by the NGO sector and UNICEF as well as GoG has gone into various well-crafted and fully costed policies and plans for the protection of Ghana’s children they have lacked full and effective implementation.
The government has adopted, but not fully implemented, the Child and Family Welfare Policy (2014), the Justice for Children Policy (2015), the National Gender Policy (2015), the Five Year (2018-2022) Strategic Plan to prevent Adolescent Pregnancies, Ghana Family Planning Costing Implementation
(2016 – 2020) and the National Strategic Framework on Ending Child Marriage for (2017-2018) along with their costed operational plans.
Equally, the “Automated System for the Registration of Births and Deaths” (SRBD) and the Care Reform Initiative need to be fully funded so that rollout can be completed.
The Committee further indicated that, “The budget required to bring child protection services in Ghana up to the minimum level demanded by the CRC is small compared to the budget required for children’s education, health and sanitation.
However, these child protection allocations are critically important as they address the needs of the most vulnerable children, and the economic benefits of preventing abuse or addressing existing abuse are substantial.
Based on the above mentioned issues, we demand that Government increase the amount destined to child protection in the 2020 and subsequent budgets and that the budget should subsequently be entirely disbursed to adequately fund and implement the existing plans and policies particularly in the key areas of Birth Registration, Alternative Care, Justice for Children, Child Marriage and Child Sexual and Reproductive Health.
We, as the Organizing Committee of the NGO Forum, therefore require that the Government live up to its responsibilities by increasing the budget allocations for child protection in Ghana, and fully disbursing the entire child protection budget.”
In her keynote address, the Minister for Gender, Children and Social Protection, Cynthia Morrison, disclosed that, “Child neglect is the failure to provide adequate health care, clothing, shelter, educational safety, emotional safety and all that it entails. Providing for the needs of children is everyone’s responsibility.”
She noted that, as government needs to play its part in providing the necessary legal and policy framework that seeks to ensure that children do not lack in their basic needs, parents and the community also needs to provide the immediate needs of the children in their care.
The Minister, emphasized that, the government of Ghana has shown its commitment in matters that protects the right of children in both nationally and internationally. Adding that, “This is evident in being the first country to ratify the United Nations Conventions on the right of a child.”
According to her, this sets out the political, economic, social and cultural rights of every child. She explained that, as a result of Ghana’s ratification, the government has shown its commitment towards the promotion and protection of children’s right through the passage of laws such as the Child Act, Juvenile Act, Human Trafficking Act etc.
“I’m happy to tell you that, all these laws are being amended to suit the current trend, protecting children. And there are provisions to protect children that are being neglected either by parent or the state.”
Hon. Cynthia Morrison, indicated that, government in collaboration with partners with funding support from UNICEF, has strengthened protection systems by formulating child and family welfare and the Justice for all children policies, which places the child at the centre of family and the community. She however, said, making the protection of the child is everyone’s responsibility.
She further, disclosed that, though government’s efforts to ensure protective care of the child is mad by challenges such as low appreciation of child right in our communities, low patronage of child abuse cases on the part of the victims and many others.
“We are still on course in providing a safer environment for the development of the child,” She stressed on.