It is trite knowledge that Child Labour is a global cancer that has attracted the attention of international and national communities alike.
These national and international communities include the United Nations (UN), Governments, both past and presents, Employers and Worker’s Organization, Civil Society Organizations, local communities and other relevant developers such as UNICEF, DANIDA among others.
Child Labour takes place when children below the ages of 5 and 17 years work under dangerous and hazardous working environment with little or no protection thus exposing them to injuries, toxic substances and all forms of physical, psychological and emotional abuse.
The Children’s Act 1998 (Act 560) provides the lists of activities that are dangerous and hazardous to children when they are engaged in them. These include children going for sea (fishing), mining (galamsey), quarrying and patronage of heavy loads. Others include slave like activities such as trafficking, debt bondage and other forms of forced labour, forced recruitment, forced marriage, armed conflict, prostitution, pornography and illicit activities (Convention 182) on International Standards.
According to the recent Ghana Labour Standard Survey (GLSS 6) released in August 2014 by the Ghana Statistical Service (GSS) , 21.8 per cent representing 1,982,553 children aged between 5 -17 years out of over 8 million are engaged in Child Labour. This figure shows an increase over 2003 Ghana Child Labour Survey (GCLS 2003) of 1, 27 million child labourers, out of a population of over 6 million children.
The survey further revealed that majority of the children (76.86) worked as unskilled agriculture and fishery workers while 14.9 per cent worked in the services sector. It adds that a higher proportion of males (83.26) were engaged as unskilled agriculture/fishery workers compared to females (69.88). Contrarily, the proportion of females engaged in the Services Sector (21.49) was higher than males (8.98).
These findings are an indication that the issue of Child Labour has become a blockage to many developing countries including Ghana who are trying to achieve their desired outcomes in socio- economic development in the areas of education, poverty reduction, social protection and human rights.
The Government of Ghana, for example, in its resolve to eliminate Child Labour especially Worst Forms of Child Labour was the first to ratify the United Nations (UN) Convention on the Rights of the Child and has also ratified all key Conventions of Child Labour, notably, the International Labour Organisation (ILO) Conventions on Minimum Age (CI38, 1973) and on Worst Forms of Child Labour (C182, 1999). The country also has a comprehensive legal framework including the 1992 Constitution, the Children’s Act, 1998 (Act 560), Child Rights Regulation, 2002 Human Trafficking Act (Act 694), the Labour Act, 2003 (Act 651) and the Criminal Code (Amendment) Act, 1998 (Act 554) and its Amendments.
Further, previous and present governments have made commitment by factoring the elimination of Child Labour into the Ghana Shared Growth Development Agenda (GSGDA) II.
Also, as the country works toward the achievement of Sustainable Development Goals (SDG), the specific target (8.7) of the new SDG No. 8 on decent work and economic growth calls for immediate measures to eradicate forced labour, end modern slavery and human trafficking, and secure the prohibition and elimination of the Worst Forms of Child Labour and specifically end Child Labour in all its forms by 2025.
In a bid to ensure that the issue of child labour is reduced to the barest minimum, Cabinet has once again approved the phase II of the NPA for the elimination of the Worst Forms of Child Labour and this will be duly launched on the 8th of May, 2018 at Suhum.
Moreover, the Ministry of Employment and Labour Relations (MELR) through its Child Labour Unit (CLU) has held a –two day stakeholders to develop the implementation plan for the effective roll out of the NPA 2.
In conclusion, I will like to seize this opportunity to say that children are the future arrows (leaders) of every mighty nation. (Psalm 127: 3-5). If we fail to protect our children and allow them to waste away, this country will be doomed, and above all when the Master of Masters shall appear one day, we all would be found wanting.
I will therefore sound a clarion call on all stakeholders to mobilize resources for the successful implementation of the NPA II, come May 8, 2018 before the Child Labour Day on June 12, 2018.
By Charlotte Hanson, staff of ISD and PRO (MELR).