The United Nations (UN) World Children’s Day was marked yesterday to raise awareness to the challenges many children around the world go through.
This year’s celebration also coincided with the 30th anniversary of the adoption of the Convention on the Rights of the Child by the United Nations General Assembly.
According to the United Nations, the Convention, since its adoption, has been the most widely ratified human rights treaty in history.
The Convention says childhood is separate from adulthood, and lasts until 18. It further describes childhood as a special, protected time in which children must be allowed to grow, learn, play, develop and flourish with dignity.
Many governments have, since the adoption of the Convention, changed or enacted laws and made policies and investments to promote the rights of children and protect them from violence and exploitation.
Children, in many countries, are given the opportunity to have their voices heard and participate in decision making in their countries.
“Around the world, children are showing us their strength and leadership, advocating for a more sustainable world for all. Let’s build on advances and re-commit to putting children first. For every child, every right,” according to the UN Secretary-General, Antonio Gutteres
However, millions of children around the world are denied their rights. Many are subjected to extreme violence and exploitations while others are denied adequate healthcare, nutrition, and education.
Here in Ghana, the Children’s Act 1998, Act 560, was enacted about two decades ago to ensure that the rights of every Ghanaian child was protected. All governments under the Fourth Republic have developed policies and programmes to give true meaning to the act.
Despite these laws and policies, there have been many reports of children going through abuses, violence and exploitation.
Although there is a policy to ensure free and compulsory education of every child in Ghana, many children are forced to leave school to do hazardous work on the streets, quarry sites, fishing areas, among others. There are still sad and disturbing reports of child marriages and children in witch camps in Ghana.
It is time for all of us to recognise the urgent need for us to play our individual roles to ensure that the rights of children are protected.
We must commit to action to protect the right of every child and make our dear country a safe and better place for every growing child.
The government, parents, teachers, civil society organisations, religious bodies, community leaders, corporate bodies and the media, must be part of the struggle to ensure that the right of every child is protected.