As the world marks Children’s Day and the 30th anniversary of the Convention of the Rights of the Child on November 20, 2020 on the theme “Investing in our future means investing in our children”, a nation-wide Coalition of Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs), on the occasion of the celebration, has called on the Government of Ghana to make the protection of child rights a priority in 2021 and beyond.
In a Press Release issued ahead of the celebration on November 20, the Coalition made up of ten NGOs led by Safe-Child Advocacy, a humanitarian agency owned by the Catholic Archdiocese of Kumasi, expressed worry that 30 years after Ghana had ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Child, not every child in the West African country has access basic rights.
The Coalition is made up of Safe-Child Advocacy; 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 Organisation; Vulnerable Aid Organization-Ghana; Adamfo Ghana.
In their November 17 Press Release, the Coalition queried whether there is a reason to celebrate the anniversary when “still today, not every child in Ghana gets to enjoy a full childhood, the Coalition stated.
“Too many children and youth are still deprived of their basic rights; the right to a safe home, the right to education and health care, the right to be protected from violence, maltreatment and abuse,” they noted.
The Coalition lamented that “Children that are living and working on the streets are particularly vulnerable.”
In preparation for the celebration, a touching videoclip produced by the Coalition shows the bad situation that Ghana’s street connected children live in, with children seen saying “We have the right to education. So, why are we not in school?’
One of the pressing questions asked by two youth activists, Ayisha and Gladys, in the video clip is “Too many of us are sleeping on the streets, who is protecting us?”
Ayisha and Gladys are activists who have had first-hand experience of working and living on the streets of Kumasi, and could testify of the challenging conditions, poverty and abuse that young children have to survive on the streets on a daily basis.
Sr. Olivia Umoh, DC, Director of Safe-Child Advocacy, one of the leading organisations of the Coalition said “We produced this clip with good reason, adding that progress has been made since 1990, but there is more work to do.
“It is unacceptable that in 2020, there are still thousands of children roaming the streets of Ghana,” she bemoaned, stressing that “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.”
“We call on the Government of Ghana to commit to making sure all children in Ghana can enjoy their basic rights,” Sr. Umoh appealed, asking that “Let us join forces and work together to achieve this laudable goal.”
According to the Coalition, as Ghanaians go the polls on December 7, to elect a new President, they are ever ready regardless of the outcome to work together with the newly elected president and government officials to make 2021 the year of the Children of Ghana.
“The coalition consists of a great number of professional organisations with many years of hands-on experience with working with street-connected children and youth,” they pointed out.
They maintained that “The organisations are knowledgeable and well-informed on the issues at hand and we look forward to joining hands with the Government of Ghana to develop a National Action Plan for Street Connected Children. The right time, they added is now.