FOCUS: Create awareness on Child Labour from bottom-up

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By Gloria Anderson

Child Labour has been a global menace for a very long time. This has given much concern to International Organisations to explore various avenues to curb the practice. In 1973, the International Labor Organisation (ILO), Convention 138 defined Child Labor as an economic activity performed by a person under the age of 15 and prohibited engaging children from jobs being hazardous to the physical, mental and moral well-being of the child as well as for preventing effective Schooling.

Child Labour is overwhelmingly a phenomenon of the informal economy. While some children can be found in low skilled, and poorly regulated sectors of the formal economy.

Every year, June 12 is marked as the world day against Child Labour, with more than 150 million children and adolescents working in areas that are harmful to their physical, mental, social or educational well-being. It is important, however, to spread awareness about it.

While the number of children engaged in Child Labour has fallen across the world, progress has been slow and even stalled in some places due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

For poorer households, Child Labor is a negative coping mechanism and most of the children are involved in agriculture and fishing industries.

In some regions, the vast majority of working children are unpaid family workers between the ages of 5 and 7 years.

While usually, boys are more likely to be doing manual work, this could be due to the household interpretation of what constitutes Child Labor. Thus, the heavy domestic workload for girls, including childcare, is not considered as labor.

Child Labour is a significant problem in Ghana, although there are policies in the 1992 Constitution, referring to the social protection ACT 7610 that protects the rights of children not to be used under any form of exploitation, the practice continues.

Speaking on GBC’s Current Affairs program ‘FOCUS’ on how to curb the menace, Emmanuel Kwame Mensah, National Program Coordinator for ILO Accelerated Lab Project, called for intense education on the subject matter.

Emmanuel Kwame Mensah.

He said, “A national plan of action and a strong awareness strategy targeting the group of people who need specific help can go a long way to minimize the situation and cause behavioral change.”

Mr. Mensah emphasising the need to use the bottom-top approach in disseminating information encouraged churches in a form of evangelism, chiefs reaching out to their people, Assemblymen and District Chief Executives who have direct contact with the masses in rural areas, especially to help to drive the education to the least privileged in society.

“The conversation on Child Labor however cannot be misconstrued with Child work”. Mr. Mensah noted. He described the situation that, any form of work which does not affect the education, health, and child development should not be termed as Child Labour.”

Earl Ankrah, Public Relations Officer at the Fair Wages and Salaries, contributing to the discussion, suggested that “just as political parties are able to reach out to the masses in almost all remote areas in this country during elections, same medium can be viable in helping to educate parents on child labor and also create the awareness to the children on knowing their rights and privileges”.

Earl Ankrah.

Social protection policies like the School Feeding Program, among others, must be scaled up in order to empower the beneficiaries effectively. Because the lack of such interventions can lead to drop outs, which later feeds into the national conversation on unemployment. Hence, a potential National Security threat is a caution both guests on the program aligned towards and called on stakeholders to bring all hands on deck.

While accurate numbers on human trafficking (sale of children, child prostitution etc.) don’t exist, it is believed that the large majority of all cases, involve children mainly girls. The guest on the show FOCUS however advised the public that extreme forms of Child Labor can lead to prosecution.

Stakeholders are therefore being called upon to tackle the soil contextual issues of the problem and not just the root causes.

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