|© UNICEF Ghana/2009/Hahn|
|Youth panellist Gifty Adu-Baaku asks a question of parliamentarians at the 'People to People – Children to Adults' roundtable in Accra, Ghana.|
In the run-up to 20 November 2009, the 20th anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, UNICEF is featuring a series of stories about this landmark international agreement on the basic human rights of all children – including progress made and challenges that remain. Here is one of those stories.
ACCRA, Ghana, 16 November 2009 – To commemorate the 20th anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), UNICEF organized a roundtable discussion between children and parliamentarians, entitled ‘People to People – Children to Adults’, in collaboration with the Ministry of Women and Children’s Affairs
The day before the event, a group of 20 Ghanaian children gathered to discuss their concerns about their country's progress in upholding its commitments under the CRC, and to develop questions for the next day's discussion. The children covered topics ranging from health to child protection and participation.
From this group, six young people from were chosen by the group to represent the youth of Ghana at the roundtable.
During the event, the children took turns posing tough questions to the parliamentary panel, often resulting in spontaneous applause from the audience.
|© UNICEF Ghana/2009/Hahn|
|Vice Chairperson of the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child Dr. Agnes A. Aidoo, addresses the audience at the roundtable.|
The parliamentarians' panel consisted of high-profile dignitaries, including Minister for Women and Children Akua Sena Dansua; the Chair of Gender Committee on Children, Sampson Ahi; Deputy Minister for Water Resources Hannah Bisau; and Deputy Minister of Employment and Social Welfare Antwi Boasiako Sekyere.
Ms. Dansua spoke on behalf of the Vice President of Ghana, John D. Mahama, outlining the achievements and strides made by the government in relation to the CRC.
An interactive discussion
In an exchange of knowledge and experience, members of the parliamentary panel addressed the children's questions.
“Why were schoolchildren not consulted in the change of the syllabus?” asked one young panelist. “What is being done to punish teachers who sexually harass and assault students?” asked another child. Yet another youth asked: “What is being done to combat and eradicate female genital mutilation?”
The discussion became more interactive when the moderator invited comments and suggestions from the audience of 200 children, who raised many issues of concern to them – such as corporal punishment and their right to education.
Rights and responsibilities
As many young people in Ghana understand, rights comes with responsibilities – a fact that the Minister for Women and Children reiterated as she concluded the panel.
This dialogue between the generations was important to the leaders of today and tomorrow, fulfilling a right outlined in the CRC: that children should be able to participate in the decisions that affect them. One clear message came out of the event: Although we have come far, there is still much, much more to do.
To that end, UNICEF Regional Director for West and Central Africa Region Director Gianfranco Rotigliano stressed the importance of a continued dialogue to improve the lives of children in Ghana.
CRC @ 20
‘Perspectives’ essay series