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Ghana - 21 November, 2020
The exploitation of children through any form of work that deprives them of their childhood, their potential and their dignity, popularly known as “child labour,” among cocoa-producing communities, has been a concern in Ghana. Such an act interferes with the ability of children to attend regular school and is mentally, physically, socially or morally harmful to their development.
Women have, for ages, been relegated to the background when it comes to decision-making in almost all areas, including their economic activities. This has always had negative implications on the women and their families. As part of measures to promote inclusive governance and to address issues related to child labour, Tropenbos Ghana, in collaboration with Department of Social Welfare, held a two-day training in Sefwi Wiawso in the Western North region of Ghana, to strengthen capacities of women cocoa farmers in different aspects of their lives through learning, sharing and networking. The training was conducted under the Green Livelihood Alliance Programme.
As a prelude to the training, there was a recapitulation of previous trainings. This session was important because it particularly promoted peer-to-peer learning as it afforded some participants the opportunity to share with others what they had learned during the previous trainings and to encourage their colleagues to adopt best practices. Topics participants discussed included gender-related issues and how both sexes could collaborate to strengthen and consolidate their marriage unions.
The two-day training itself, which was focused on child labour and its implication on the lives of children, brought together more than 100 women participants from 13 women groups in 13 communities in the Western North region of Ghana. Topics discussed included: Concept of a child; Concept of child labour and its implications on the child; Global estimates of child labour; Perception of child work in traditional societies; Key terms and concepts used in child labour; Acceptable child work; Unacceptable forms of child labour; Child labour–criteria for identification; Hazardous labour; Effects of child labour; Child trafficking and Penalties of child labour; among others.
Narrating what she had learned as take-home, Margaret Tettey from Yesu Adom Women Farmers Group said:
“I now realise how my actions had been impeding the progress of my children. I am into plantain business and I used to send my children to the farm where we spent long hours without thinking about their school, studies and general welfare. I made my children to carry the plantain and walk long distances. Anytime they complained of tiredness, I felt they were simply lazy and didn’t want to work. Having participated in this training, however, I now understand how much harm I was doing to my children,” she said.
Margaret indicated that since her husband had not been part of the training, going back home, she would drastically reduce how she had been burdening her children and would share what she had learnt with her husband to get his support so they give their children the maximum protection that would promote their growth, education and general welfare.
Beatrice Coffie, Secretary to Odonaye Women Farmers’ Association, said the training was an eye opener for them to free their children. “I now understand that we did not know how to handle children. I have learned what child labour is and its effects on the growth of a child. I now understand that forcing children to do work against their will or at the expense of their education is wrong. I have taken it upon myself to teach other parents to free our children, but not use them the way we were doing,” she said.