The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) in collaboration with the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social is currently conducting a five-day technical workshop on strategic framework for strengthening national child protection system at the Boulevard Palace Hotel on 13th Street, Sinkor –Monrovia.
In 2011, ECOWAS Commission developed a Draft ECOWAS Monitoring and Evaluation Framework for Child Protection System in West Africa. The goal of the Draft ECOWAS Monitoring and Evaluation Framework for Child Protection System is to promote the well-being of children within the region. It specifies the different components that need to be put in place for an effective Child Protection System.
These components work individually and collectively to strengthen protection and reduce the vulnerability of children within the region. For each Component - the benchmarks, results/outcomes, indicators and means of verification have been identified.
In 2016, the monitoring and evaluation framework metamorphosed into ECOWAS Strategic Framework for strengthening National Child Protection Systems to prevent and respond to Violence, Abuse and Exploitation against Children in West Africa, covering the period 2018-2030. This Strategic Framework still upheld the focus of the M&E framework. It is expected to guide the Member States in building national child protection systems across the region and that National child protection systems are expected to focus on five issues of particular concern in the region, these are: violence against children (sexual, physical and emotional); child marriage; child labour; birth registration; and children on the move.
Speaking during the opening session of the technical workshop, Gender, Children and Social Protection Minister Williametta E. Saydee-Tarr expressed delight in ECOWAS for such intriguing initiative and reemphasized Gender’s commitment to working with ECOWAS and all other partners in making sure that the rights and dignity of children are protected.
Minister Tarr assured that such commitment goes as far as making certain that Liberia’s National Child Protection Policy is implemented in its fullest—as required under the laws of Liberia.
“We must leave no child behind for Africa’s development, irrespective of status or background; every child has inclusive rights to Liberia’s development”, the Gender Boss Averred.
Minister Saydee-Tarr stressed that children in Liberia are faced with insurmountable challenges ranging from abandonments, persistent non-supports, child rape, susceptibility to violence and abuses, hunger, as well as relatively low-quality parenting.
“It will interest you to know that in the first quarter of 2018, the Juvenile Unit at the Ministry of Gender Children and Social Protection recorded 37 cases, which include simple assault, theft of property, child conflicts, abandonment, street children and rape. Of this number, there are 17 females and 20 males (ages 2 weeks to 17 years)”, Minister Tarr pointed out.
According to the Gender Boss statistics also show that child labor (approximately 5-14years) still remains alarming in Liberia—at 20.8% (according to UNICEF 2012 statistics). In urban areas, children are seen selling in the streets, while those that reside in the rural areas are engaged in undue agriculture, fishing and mining activities, especially in hazardous environments. Our girls’ children are also employed in homes to do domestic work, which put them at risk of physical and sexual harassment.
Additionally, about 39.2% of Liberian children around the ages of 15-17 years have experienced physical violence. Also, 3,323 Liberian children lost one or both parents/ primary caregivers due to the Ebola virus disease—according to Ministry of Health and UNICEF reports.
This year’s National Technical Workshop for ECOWAS Member States on the guideline for the implementation of ECOWAS Strategic Framework for Strengthening National Child Protection System is geared towards preventing and responding to Violence, Abuse and Exploitation against Children in West Africa, by Member states.
According to the organizers, the technical workshop will enhance participants’ understanding of the current trends on Child protection and discuss the existing International, Regional and National Framework on Child Protection and Child Labour as well as developing a reporting tool to monitor the actual implementation of the guidelines and the sharing of best practices in child protection generally and the elimination of Child Labour in particular.
The technical workshop is being attended by Representatives from the International Labour Organization-Liberia, UNICEF, Ministry of Labour, line Ministries and Agencies and CSOs.