The Ministry of Fisheries and Aquaculture Development has collaborated with the United States Agency for International Development to help eliminate child labour and strengthen gender policies in the fisheries sector.
The collaboration under the “Sustainable Fisheries Management Project (SFMP)” works to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals five, eight and 10 which aim to eradicate forced labour, end modern slavery and human trafficking as well as reduce gender inequalities in the country.
Mrs Elizabeth Afoley Quaye, the Sector Minister, announced this at a three-day workshop to sensitise and solicit feedback from stakeholders on gender and child labour policies.
The programme is organised through the Feed the Future, the US government’s global hunger and food security initiative.
The Feed the Future works in Ghana to increase agricultural productivity, protect ecosystems and fisheries and boost the livelihoods of local communities.
The Minister said the project was focused mainly in the Central Region where the practice of child labour and trafficking in the fisheries sector was pervasive and a source area for children trafficked into fishing on the Volta Lake.
Mrs Quaye said the SFMP supported community child protection committees to effectively advocate, reduce child labour and trafficking in communities and strengthen policies on child labour and trafficking within the fisheries sector.
She said women played important roles in the country’s development, yet their contributions were not recognized, but government was committed to ensuring gender equality and women empowerment.
“This is shown not only by the ratification of key International Instruments and Conventions but also by major reforms, including the development and adoption of the Ghana Gender Policy, 2015,” she added.
She said the formation and continuous operation of the National Fish Processors and Traders Association illustrated the importance of issues of women to the Ministry.
Mrs Quaye noted that with the formation of the Association, women in fisheries have had a unified voice and are represented in national, regional and international fora, in relation to fisheries policies and programmes.
She said child labour and trafficking have over the years been an issue of national and international concern, which had brought together leaders of various countries for the purpose of finding solutions to them.
“Child labour has been identified to be an issue affecting the economic development in Ghana as it impacts on the value of our products especially in agriculture, including fisheries.”
Mrs Quaye called on other players to emulate the initiative by the USAID to assist government in dealing with the issue of child labour and trafficking in the fisheries sector.
Mr Maurice Knight, the Chief of Party, SFMP, said it was imperative to ensure that the rights and future of every Ghanaian child were protected and well harnessed for the country’s sustainable development.
He was optimistic that stakeholders would come out with strategies to be mainstreamed into the policies of the Ministry and implemented towards the greater good of the citizenry.