A five-day workshop on the implementation of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) strategic framework on the protection of children is underway in Accra.
In 2011, the ECOWAS Commission developed a Draft ECOWAS Monitoring and Evaluation Framework for Child Protection System in West Africa, aimed at promoting the wellbeing of children within the sub-region. It specifies the different components that need to be put in place for an effective Child Protection System.
The objective of the workshop is to enhance participants' understanding on current trends of child protection, and the existing international and regional child protection and child labour frameworks, while sharing best practices in the elimination of child labour among others.
In his opening address, Deputy Minister of Employment and Labour Relations, Mr Bright Wireko-Brobby, said child protection was a critical consideration for every country's development, therefore, it was important for policies and strategies to be adopted to protect children from all forms of harm and safeguard their rights to a life free from violence, exploitation, neglect and abuse.
This, he said, could be done though the collective efforts of family, communities, government and civil society organisations (CSOs).
According to the Deputy Minister, for child protection measures to be effective, they must have some key elements including direction, regulation, legislation as well as adequate capacity for implementation.
Mr Wireko-Brobby further indicated that there must be high quality evidence-informed data for decision-making and adequate resource allocation to relevant institutions, whose mandate was to protect children.
"Government has intensified its commitment to this worthy course through the formulation and enforcement of relevant laws and the implementation of policies, programmes and interventions such as the child and family welfare policy of 2015 which aims at protecting children from all forms of violence, abuse and exploitation. This demonstrates that Ghana remains committed to the welfare of children," he said.
He explained that social interventions like the capitation grant, free uniforms, text books and exercise books, and the flagship Free Senior High school (FSHS) programme were still ongoing.
He admonished members of the public to join in the fight against injustice to children because they are the future leaders of the country.
Touching on the relevance of the workshop, Mr Dennis Zulu, a representative of the International Labour Organisation (ILO), said the ECOWAS Commission identified the necessity to train child protection and child labour actors in member states in efforts to ensure children were not maltreated and neglected.
He assured that the ILO would continue its collaboration with the government, through the Ministry of Labour and other ministries, agencies and departments to eliminate child labour and protect children within the working age.
"We, therefore, call for a renewed commitment and unity of effort from all actors in Ghana, governments, workers and employer's organisations, United Nations agencies, international organisations, enterprises and CSOs and the press to strengthen the system to ensure the protection of children in Ghana and within the ECOWAS community," he added.