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07.04.2009 Editorial

My special letter to Hon. Akua Dansua

By Daily Guide
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THIS IS my official letter to congratulate you on your new appointment. Your ascension to the 'throne' as the Minister of Women and Children's Affair was not accidental; neither was it from the blue; it was just a matter of time, after waiting in the political wilderness for eight years during which you demonstrated that you were ready for such an appointment.

Congratulations!
The decision by the President to appoint you to this position was not one of the 'jobs for the boys' but considering your pedigree, starting as a 'Konkonsa' woman where the ink never ceased to flow in your pen to raise issues of national concerns; then to the House of Honourables coupled with your quest for enhancing the prestige of women and children, you did so many wonderful things with your Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO).

The President again scored another mark (from my perspective) when he went for another hard working woman, Hon. Boya, to support you to do something for women and children 'before you die'.

The choice of the two 'spinsters' by the President, to me, indicates that the President did not want any Homo Sapiens called 'son of man' with his 'langalanga' 'firepower' tool in between his legs to distract your attention but most importantly for the two of you to have absolute concentration to work to improve the lots of women and children.

I always have at the back of my mind that empowering women in the area of poverty alleviation or reduction, literacy, democracy and all there is, is by helping society overcome some of its problems.

No wonder the famous assertion (now a cliché), “if you educate a man, you educate an individual but if you educate a woman you educate the whole nation”.

On the other hand, the fear of some men is that if you empower women too much, they would become 'overpowered' and become very powerful to the detriment of men.

In this situation, the man at the hands of a callous woman would be starved both in the stomach and the groin. In fact, the starvation in the groin has led to many domestic violence cases recorded in our homes.  

My letter to you, Honourable Minister, through this column is a unique one because I don't usually do that to politicians but for you, I think we share something in common. As a child rights' activist, I wish to bring to your notice some of the atrocities our children are still going through in this modern age of our lives as a country.

It is sad to hear that the 'world of children' is no more exciting as it used to be. Children these days don't smile. All you see on their innocent faces is 'kankpe'- 'stoned'- hard face, a sign of 'nobody knows the trouble I see' situation.

Even if somebody 'knows my wahala, nobody is ready to mind or help me'. That is why we have so many of our children on the streets doing adults' business.

Honourable Dansua, education for children is no longer the preserve of the 'bungalowbii'. The 1992 Constitution, after 10 years of its inception, fully granted the 'Shiabii' children the privilege to also attend school free and compulsorily.

The introduction of the School Feeding Programme is a plus which made free education different from what used to pertain in the days of old.

My headache is that when education became free and compulsory under the Free Compulsory Universal Basic Education (FCUBE), it became mandatory for parents to send their children to school whether they liked it or not; whether they had money for 'koko' or for 'fried rice and chicken', the parents did not have a choice.

Unfortunately, parents have turned a blind eye to the educational needs of their children, forgetting that one of the means of breaking the poverty cycle is education.

My Honourable Minister, the purpose of this letter is to bring to your notice children who have been turned into beggars on our streets and also help you identify some of the pressing needs of children and what can be done to save them from the 'wahala' they are going through.

I was expecting the Vetting Committee to ask you how your ministry was going to deal with the street children phenomenon in the country but sadly, the 'men' 'wisely' shied away from that angle because I suspect they feared if they raised child 'streetism', accusing fingers would be pointed at them for being the worst cause of all the problems children are going through today!

For many years, Ghana has prided itself as the first country to append its signature to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, 1989 and other international conventions including:

ILO Convention on the Worst Forms of Child Labour (NO. 182), African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child, The Minimum Age (Industry) Convention, 1919 (NO. 5), Forced Labour Conventions (NOs. 29 and 105), Labour Inspection and Convention NO. 81, Equal remuneration (NO.100) and African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child.

If fact, we are always the first to sign, but when it comes to implementation, we are the last to take the necessary steps, or the first to hide behind obnoxious cultural practices as our excuses.

We have left the destiny of our country which would be championed by these same children to NGOs who have sold our 'nakedness' to the international community for money in the name of doing some for children.

Our streets are littered with children who serve as guides to blind relatives begging for alms; this is at the expense of the children's education and welfare. One can easily see some of these children totally malnourished, tired, hungry and 'lost' in the world of adults.

I know the various streets where these children are seen begging for alms. Ironically, these same streets are the same routes politicians like you use everyday but because 'you' drive in 'tinted' glasses with full 'nya-nya', 'you' close your eyes to what is happening to our future leaders.   

Again, there are those sachet water and other items sellers on our streets. I'm talking purely about child labour and not the casual 'helping my mother to raise some money to support me' kind of work.

The children's Act, Act 560 prohibits hazardous and harmful work by children. Selling 'pure' water and other items on the street constitutes child labour.

Honourable Minister, we need to move away from workshops, seminars and other talk-shows and do something practical to get children off the street. Let's start with those beggars.

Make it a criminal offence for any blind person to ask a child to lead him or her to beg. All parents who have refused to send their children to school ought to be arrested.

I know every corner where these children can be found and I would not hesitate to show you all the corner-corners.

Let's all help to save our children for the future belongs to them, or we shall help to 'breed' armed robbers and other social miscreants. If you are a 'bungalowbii' and you don't care, don't shout for help if the child-turned-armed robber attacks your household.

I wish the two of you well.

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