Mr Baba Jamal, Deputy Minister of Employment and Labour Relations, has called on journalists to ensure that their work affect the lives of people, especially children engaged in labour.
He said it is important for the media to put issues of child labour at the centre stage for public discussion in order to help eradicate it.
Speaking at a media launch of the 2016 World Day against Child Labour, which would be marked on June 12, Mr Jamal noted that the media’s role in the fight against child labour is critical and non-negotiable.
“Don’t count your blessings in only the financial gains of your work, but count your blessings as well in how many people you are able to touch with your work; how many children your writing in Accra could save in Bunkpurugu or Akekaano,” he said.
Mr Jamal expressed the need for a clear distinction between child labour and acceptable work for the training of children for adulthood.
He said children helping parents with house chores, or learning their parents’ trade, is different from child labour, which involves children in work, meant for adults and which poses risks to their health, education and overall development.
He noted that a clear understanding of this and other issues of child labour would enable the media to better educate the public and help address the problem.
Speaking on the theme for this year: “End Child Labour in Supply Chains in Ghana: Together we can!” he noted that the issue of supply chain is very complicated, cutting across various sectors including agriculture, construction, fishing, mining, manufacturing and the service sector.
“In Ghana, one out of five children (21 per cent) is estimated to be engaged in child labour. This is a breach of the constitutional and fundamental human rights of the children and a liability to socio-economic development.”
He stated that although poverty is at the core of the problem of child labour, ignorance of the rights of children as well as misconceptions and inadequacies in the educational system are also contributory factors.
Mr Jamal said the National Plan of Action Against Child Labour (NPA2: 2016-2020) is at its finalisation stage and would build on the gains of the previous which ended in 2015.
Ms Mamy Laliana Razafindrakoto, Project Director at the International Labour Organisation (ILO) Accra, said child labour may never be eradicated and may become worse if buyers do not stop purchasing goods tainted with the problem.
Besides, there is the need for effective and robust monitoring mechanisms and better alternatives to child labour, including free quality education and vocational training.
“Time has come for Ghana to talk openly about these issues and address them collectively since they stand in the way of a faster progress in eliminating child labour,” she stated.
Ms Razafindrakoto said effective governance and social dialogue is the way forward and called for coordinated action between governments, workers, employers’ organisations, enterprises, civil society and development partners at all levels.
“The ILO will continue to assist the efforts to eradicate child labour by supporting mechanisms for increased compliance with national legislation and respect for internationally recognised human and labour rights,” she said.
Mr Sulemana Braimah, Executive Director of the Media Foundation for West Africa, who chaired the function, urged the media to push the political parties to proffer policies to help address issues of child labour ahead of the November 7 polls.
The main child labour day event would come off on Monday June 13.