Children and Parliamentarians celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Convention of the rights of the child in Ghana.
Accra, Ghana, 4 November 2009 - To celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Convention of the rights of the child, UNICEF in collaboration with the Ministry of Women and Children’s Affairs organized a round table discussion between children and parliamentarians.
Over 200 children from all over the country were brought together on the same platform to discuss Ghana’s progress in upholding its commitments under the CRC and support the facilitation of dialogue between young people and the policy makers.
Prior to the event, a group of 20 children from all over Ghana were gathered the day before to voice their concerns and develop questions for the discussion.
They covered topics ranging from Health to Child Protection and Participation. 6 young people from this group of 20 were chosen by the children themselves to represent the youth of Ghana for the round table discussion.
The Parliamentarians consisted of high profile dignitaries including Minister for Women and Children, Honorable Akua Sena Dansua, Chair of Gender Committee on Children, Honorable Sampson Ahi, Deputy Minister for Water Resources, Honorable Hannah Bisau and Deputy Minister of Employment and Social Welfare, Honorable Antwi Boasiako Sekyere.
The Minister for Women and Children, Honorable Akua Sena Dansua spoke on behalf of H.E. Vice President of Ghana, Mr. John D. Mahama outlining the achievements and strides made by the Government of Ghana in relation to CRC.
The children taking turns posed poignant questions to the parliamentary panel, often resulting in applause from the audience. Each question was addressed by members of the Parliamentary panel which became an interesting interchange of knowledge and experience.
"Why were school children not consulted in the change of the syllabus" asked a young panelist while Courage Young, a child from the Eastern region countered "What is being done to punish teachers who sexually harass and assault students?" Martin Atanga added "What is being done to combat and eradicate female genital mutilation (FGM)?"
The discussion became more interactive when the moderator invited comments and suggestions from the audience. Young people from the audience raised many issues of concern to them such as corporal punishment; the lack of support from parents to be educated denying them their right to education and whose responsibility is it to provide sex education: the parent or the teacher?
It is clear that the young people of Ghana understand that being given rights comes with responsibilities which the Minister for Women and Children reiterated in her conclusion.
This dialogue between the generations ‘People to People – Children to Adults’ was an important one to the leaders of today, young and old. Young people know that they are born with rights not to be taken for granted or abused.
"We have come far – but there is still much, much more to do" was the clear message coming out of the event.
In support of this, WCARO Regional Director, Mr. Gianfranco Rotigliano in his closing remarks stressed the importance of this dialogue to continue the effort of improving the lives of children in Ghana.
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