The Minister of Gender, Children and Social Protection Hon. Williametta E. Saydee-Tarr says children in Liberia faced 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).
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.”
She noted that these plaguing children related issues with mind-blowing numbers leave the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection and its development partners—particularly ECOWAS with the charge of constantly developing social interventions and frameworks through which these societal issues can be aggressively mitigated. It is in this context that the ECOWAS strategic framework for the protection of children is being introduced. It further seeks to strengthen National Child Protection Systems across ECOWAS Countries, including Liberia. The framework also supports the implementation of the national child protection policies to respond and prevent violence, abuse and exploitation against children in West Africa, by Member States.
Minister Tarr made these assertions when she delivered an opening Remarks at a National Technical Workshop for ECOWAS Member States on the Guidelines for Implementation of the ECOWAS Strategic Framework for Strengthening National Child Protection System currently being held at Boulevard Palace Hotel in Monrovia. This training event is conducted under the project: Support to Free Movement of Persons and Migrant in West Africa (FMM West Africa) jointly by the European Union and the ECOWAS.
The Minister informed participants that the objectives of the Step Down Workshop is to further disseminate the guidelines for the implementation of the ECOWAS Strategic Framework for strengthening National Child Protection Systems to prevent and respond to violence, abuse and exploitation against children in West Africa, particularly at the national level;
To enhance Member States’ understanding of the current trends on Child protection and discuss existing international, regional and national framework on child protection and child labor for;
Developing a reporting tool to effectively monitor the actual implementation of the guidelines; and share best practices in child protection generally and the elimination of child labor in particular.
“To this end, the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection is particularly thankful to ECOWAS for such a very intriguing initiative and would like to reinforce its commitment to working with you and all other partners in making sure that the rights and dignity of children are protected. This commitment goes as far as making certain that our 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”.
For her part, the ILO Program Manager for FMM West Africa Project and Chief Facilitator of the Workshop, Ms. Agatha Kolawole said ILO will continue its collaboration with the Government of Liberia, through the Ministry of Labour and other Ministries, agencies and departments to eliminate child labour and protect children within the working age.
“The ILO congratulates the Ministry for the adoption of the National Action Plan on the Elimination of Child Labour and is optimistic that its implementation, in line with the strategic framework, will result in the reduction of exploitation of children in Liberia. The next phase might be, if not already considered, the development of a reporting template on the implementation of the National Action Plan for the Elimination of Child Labour”.
Speaking further, Ms. Kolawole reminded participants of the Target 8.7 of the Sustainable Development Goals aiming to eradicating forced labour, modern slavery, human trafficking and child labour around the world, and also to inform this house that the United Nations General Assembly has urged the international community to step up efforts to eradicate forced labour and child labour and declared 2021 as the year for the elimination of child labour.
“We call for full ratification and implementation of the Convention and immediate action to address the remaining challenges so that the world community can get firmly on track towards eliminating all forms of child labour by 2025.
We therefore call for a renewed commitment and unity of effort from all actors in Liberia: governments, workers’ and employers’ organizations, UN agencies, international organizations, enterprises and Civil Society organizations and the press to strengthen the system to ensure the protection of children in Liberia and within the ECOWAS Community.
Ms. Kolawole used the occasion to appreciate the European Union for funding the FMM West Africa project in partnership with the ECOWAS Commission and also the Dutch Government for the continuation of the work against child labour in the Nigeria through the ACCEL Africa Project.
Earlier, Deputy Labour Minister for Manpower Planning, Atty. Phil Tarpeh Dixon said that the Government of Liberia attaches important to the workshop because Liberia has substantial interest in advancing its women and children protection program.
“It can be recalled just this year, the Domestic Violent Bill was passed which provide substantial means of protecting our children. Let used the opportunity to express my gratitude to the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection, the Women and Civil Society Organizations for leading their advocacy for the passage of this act as well as the Legislature.”
Deputy Minister Dixon knowledged the endorsement by the President of the Republic of Liberia, H. E. George M. Weah of the National action Plan (NAP) on Child Labour which runs for the period of five years (2019-2023).
He informed participants that there is a pending stakeholders meeting organized by the GOL thru the Ministry of Labour (MOL) which will further enable the MOL to meet with partners to gather institutional commitment towards the fight against child labour.
Training workshop which runs from Tuesday, August 06, 2019 to Saturday, August 10, 2019 brings together Child and Children Protection Officers, members of the National Commission on Child Labour, Civil Society groups, local and International Bodies, the Ministries of Labour and Gender, Children and Social Protection as well as other line Ministries and Agencies of government.
By: J. Kortu Nyandibo/Director of Communications/Public Affairs