The Convention on the Rights of the Child which is 30 years old since its institution; was celebrated by a plethora of people ranging from children, parents, young people, ministers of state, the Speaker of Parliament of Ghana- H.E Prof. Mike Oquaye, Country Representative of UNICEF Ghana, UNICEF Regional Director for West and Central Africa-Mrs. Marie-Pierre Poirier, representatives from UN Agencies and Development Partners; to members of the traditional society and other well-meaning persons concerned about the CRC and children’s wellbeing in totality. Before the official start of the event, Happy Kids welcomed and thrilled the audience with mellifluous music
The celebration doubled as an avenue to launch the first-ever Children’s Parliament in Ghana. Wonderful right! This auspicious event was opened by the Minister of Gender, Children and Social Protection. Indeed, the event was filled with a myriad of jaw-dropping performances by children highlighting the need for their rights to be respected and the dangers some face when they are homeless and left to the mercy of the wind and harsh sun to beg for their daily meal; it sent shivers down the spine of many and left many in pensive mood.
In the spirit of inaugurating the Children’s Parliament, the Speaker of Parliament of the Republic of Ghana- H.E Prof. Mike Oquaye before the inauguration, highlighted the need for children to speak about their welfare and wellbeing while admonishing them to be hardworking to ensure their success. This is very important because as children hard work should be their hallmark and the mantra they live by. Indeed, hard work and good behaviour pay.
Smiles lit up on the faces of the audience as we witnessed the proceedings of the Children’s parliament being carried out with great erudition by its Speaker and members of parliament. The discussion by the house was essentially based on Ghana’s adoption of the CRC and the strides that need to be taken to ensure its total fruition. It is worthy to note that the Speaker of the Children’s Parliament as elegant and erudite as she is, is visually impaired. However, she performed exceedingly well. Thus reaffirming that ‘disability is not inability.’
In a bid to leave no one behind and get all persons in society represented, the Cape Coast School for the Deaf entertained as well as educated the audience with a ‘Silent Sketch’ on the need to afford persons living with disabilities equal opportunities to education, health, etc.
As vibrant as children are, so was the chorus of the official anthem for the CRC @30. It echoed all over the auditorium with a resounding ‘For Every Child’ as it was performed by the ever-committed advocates of Children’s Rights, Wiyaala, Manifest and Cina Soul. Indeed the Second Lady of the Republic of Ghana emphasised that the energy behind the music was one of the responsible custodians of both the present and future of Ghana-Children. For her, this is a wake-up call for the country to prevent all violence against children. Indeed! No violence against children is justifiable.
It is axiomatic that the family is the basic unit of society. However, the family resides in a community. As communitarian as Ghana is, the leaders of the community must be sensitised and encouraged to be able to create safe spaces and frown against all forms of abuse of children. This goes to affirm the mandate of Ghanaians Against Child Abuse-GACA, an advocacy group against children’s and young people’s abuse, which is coincidentally celebrating 2years in existence.
As a young person, I believe every human being’s rights and welfare must be respected irrespective of age. We ought to treat children with maximum respect and not concern ourselves with their age and relate it to the supposed inability to make cogent contributions to our society. Children’s rights are essential. We need to respect them! The present and future of our beloved country -Ghana lies in their hands. How we treat them today will determine the status of our country tomorrow.
Cyril Alexis Otabil