The Second Lady, Mrs. Samira Bawumia, has called for a rise in the efforts to eradicate abuse against children.
She said despite impressive strides made by the Ghanaians Against Child Abuse (GACA) campaign, statistics indicated that children continued to suffer abuse and many forms of violence.
At an event to mark the first anniversary of GACA, she said the commemoration was a call to all stakeholders to intensify efforts to end all forms of child abuse.
Mrs. Bawumia said national statistics indicated that more than 90 percent of children had experienced some form of physical violence, while more than 21 percent of women aged between 20 and 24 were married before the age of 18.
She said the high level of abuse of all forms had prompted the need for stakeholders to take stronger action to stem the tide of such abuses.
Mrs. Bawumia reiterated her commitment to the campaign and described it as a call to action for everyone to be committed to ensuring a safer Ghana for children.
“We invite everyone to become a Ghanaian Against Child Abuse – I am a GACA and I call on you too to become a GACA,” she said.
Launched on November 21, 2017 as a social drive, the GACA seeks to eradicate the acceptance of any social and cultural practices that exploit children or have negative consequences on them.
The major pillars of the campaign include child sexual abuse, family-based care, physical abuse, child trafficking, bullying and corporal punishment.
The others are child labour, verbal abuse, child marriage, gender equity and equality and child online protection.
GACA is led by the Government of Ghana, in collaboration with UNICEF and with the support of Global Affairs Canada, the Korea International Co-operation Agency (KOICA) and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).
A total of five million people have been engaged through traditional and social media with various messages connected to the campaign pillars.
More than 5,000 people have pledged to be GACAs on its website.
The Minister of Gender, Children and Social Protection, Mrs. Cynthia Mamle Morrison, noted that cultural and social norms promoted and encouraged child abuse and other forms of childhood violence.
“What we seek to achieve ultimately with the GACA movement is to mobilise communities, families, individuals and all stakeholders across the country to be advocates standing against all forms of abuse and violence against children,” she said.
The Representative of the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), Ms Anne-Claire Dufay, said although one year seemed too short to expect significant changes, particularly in behaviours that were deeply rooted in socio-cultural practices and norms, it was important to acknowledge and celebrate the modest strides made in order to inspire more people to decide to be a GACA.
In a statement read on his behalf, the Minister of Education, Dr Matthew Opoku Prempeh, said the gains of the Free and Compulsory Universal Basic Education (FCUBE) could diminish if a conscious effort was not made to provide a safe, protected and inclusive learning environment for children, both at school and out of school.
He mentioned that the Ministry of Education, in collaboration with UNICEF, had put together an initiative known as the “Safe School Resource Pack” to address corporal punishment, bullying and sexual harassment in schools with a focus on both students, pupils and teachers.