By Morkporkpor Anku, GNA
Accra, Aug. 21, GNA – The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) has adopted a Strategic Framework for strengthening National Child Protection Systems covering the period 2018-2020.
The Framework is to prevent and respond to violence, abuse and exploitation against children in West Africa.
The goal of the Strategic Framework is to promote accountability, provide guidance and advice to Member States on Child Protection and influence initiatives that promote a protective environment for children at the National level.
Mr Bright Wireko-Brobbey, the Deputy Minister of Employment and Labour Relations, commended the leadership of ECOWAS Commission for the laudable initiative to strengthen National Child Protection Systems.
Mr Wireko-Brobbey made the remark at the opening of a five-day training workshop organised by the ECOWAS and the International Labour Organisation (ILO) on the guidelines for the Implementation of the ECOWAS Strategic Framework for Strengthening National Child Protection System.
The training event was conducted under the project, ‘Support to Free Movements of Persons and Migration in West Africa, jointly funded by the European Union and ECOWAS.
The workshop would train partners in member countries on the guidelines developed to facilitate the implementation of the ECOWAS Strategic Framework.
He said prioritising child protection is a critical condition for every country’s development and it was, important for stakeholders to make conscious effort to adopt policies, challenges, standards, guidelines and procedures to protect children from all forms of intentional and non-intentional harm.
He said the Framework was a way to prevent the inhumane treatment meted out to children across the region.
"It is also critical to safeguard the rights of children to a life free from violence, abuse, exploitation and neglect," he added.
The Minister said the issues of child protection should be a collective effort.
“Over the years, government has intensified its commitment to this worthy cause through the formulation and enforcement of relevant laws, and the implementation of policies and programmes," he said.
He said such policies and programmes include Capitation grants, school feeding programme, free uniform, distribution of text book and exercise books, LEAP and the recent Free SHS.
Mr Giovanni Soledad, Project Manager at the International Labour Organisation, also expressed excitement about the collaboration with ECOWAS to discuss issues concerning child protection in the region.
He said a careful follow up on the guidelines would help curb the menace and called on organisations and stakeholders to step up actions against the menace, in line with the Sustainable Development Goals.
Mrs Abena Annobea Asare, a Representative of the Ministry for Gender, Children and Social Protection, commended the organisers for putting the workshop together to discuss such an important issue as child labour and child trafficking.
She said this was in line with the larger framework of the ECOWAS free movement protocol, as well as the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection's oversight role of child and social protection.
“This programme is a step in the right direction which is going to build a better understanding towards issues of child labour and child protection," she added.