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Communities in the Northern, Upper East regions vow to end harmful customs against children-UNICEF


Some communities in the Northern and Upper East regions say they are committed to ending customs that harm children. On June 16th, 1976, in what has become known as the “Soweto Uprising”, 176 school children protesting the apartheid system in their country were killed and thousands injured as a result of gruesome police brutality.

Since then the day has become significant for all stakeholders to collectively reflect on the day-to-day realities that confront the African Child, and to provide the opportunity to Governments Non-Governmental Organizations and individuals to renew their commitment towards improving the plight of Africa’s poor, excluded, and vulnerable children in particular.

UNICEF & Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection Theme of the Day of the African Child 2013: “Eliminating Harmful Social and Cultural Practices Affecting Children: Our Collective Responsibility.

To commemorate the Day of the African Child, the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection and UNICEF join the African Union to mark the efforts by African communities to promote social change and end harmful practices that endanger the lives and health of millions of children each year.

Harmful social and cultural customs such as Female Genital Mutilation and Cutting (FGM/C) and the branding of children as witches have deep roots and persist because they are often not questioned. Other harmful social and cultural practices include, infanticide, child labour, and forced child marriages.

UNICEF Ghana and the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection are working to address such harmful practices, through a system-strengthening approach.

Key to this is a process of social change that challenges norms, attitudes and behaviours that violate children’s protection.

This social change will be supported by solid laws and policies that protect children from harm, as well as a strong social welfare and justice system that has the capacity to respond when a child is in need of care and protection.

“At the root of many of these abuses is inequity,” UNICEF Representative Susan Namondo Ngongi said. “In Ghana, the poorer the household, the more likely a girl is to be married at a young age.

Similarly, girls who have had little opportunities for education are more likely to have undergone female genital mutilation.” While all the three regions of the North show very high levels of marriage before 18 years, in the Upper East and Upper West regions, more than one in every three girls, is likely to be married before turning age 18.

Female Genital Mutilation even though outlawed to protect children is still an issue in parts of Northern Ghana. More than 40% of women in the Upper West and 28% of women in Upper East have undergone some form of FGM/C.

Evidence shows that engaging entire communities around human rights on FGM/C leads to greater understanding and abandonment of this harmful practice. As a result of this approach, fewer girls are subjected to the damaging practice of FGM/C.

That is why UNICEF and The Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection are strengthening their collaboration with the District Assemblies, Traditional authorities, and partner agencies, to eradicate these harmful practices.

While calling on communities and all stakeholders to work towards eradicating all such harmful practices against children, the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection with support from UNICEF is committed to ensuring the enforcement of the rights of children for their holistic development.

UNICEF works in more than 190 countries and territories to help children survive and thrive, from early childhood through adolescence.

The world’s largest provider of vaccines for developing countries, UNICEF supports child health and nutrition, good water and sanitation, quality basic education for all boys and girls, and the protection of children from violence, exploitation, and AIDS.

UNICEF is funded entirely by the voluntary contributions of individuals, businesses, foundations and governments. The Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection was established in 2013 with a mandate to ensure gender equality, promote the welfare and protection of children and to empower the vulnerable in Society.

The Ministry is an amalgam of the former Ministry of Women and Children, the Department of Social Welfare and the Social Protection Division of the Ministry of Employment & Social Welfare.

Through mainstreaming gender considerations, promoting the welfare and protection of children and empowering the vulnerable, excluded, aged and persons with disability through the use of social protection interventions to achieve national development.

The Ministry has Departments of Gender, Children, Social Protection, Social Services, Council of Persons with Disability, and is working on a Unit for the Aged.


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