The International Cocoa Initiative (ICI) has engaged members of the Parliamentary Select Committee on Employment, Social Protection and State Enterprises to strengthen their roles in ending child labour along Ghana’s cocoa production chain.
The meeting is part of the organisation's three core functions outlined in its 2021-2026 strategy to build the capacity of stakeholders, including; Members of Parliament (MPs) and systems to strengthen their functions towards eradicating child labour.
Mr Mike Arthur, Country Director of ICI, at a two-day capacity building in Koforidua said the select committee’s role in eliminating child labour was critical considering its mandate of promoting child rights.
In line with that, he said the ICI was collaborating with the Ministry of Employment and Labour Relations to discuss the concept of child labour and its related issues to let stakeholders appreciate the difficulties victims of child labour and forced labour go through.
It would also help to bring to the open its impact on Ghana's cocoa industry and guide authorities in decision making.
Mr Arthur said the organisation’s new strategy was on how to scale up activities well known to be successful in fighting against child labour in the cocoa value chain, which included; providing for school children at risk.
As part of activities related to this year’s International Year for the Elimination of Child Labour, ICI with its partners have pledged to scale up systems that prevent child labour.
These schemes cover 540,000 cocoa-growing households in Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana, representing about 30 per cent of the cocoa supply chain in the two West African countries by the end of 2021.
Mr Ignatius Baffuor Awuah, Minister for Employment and Labour Relations, noted that distinguishing between child labour and child work was critical to any strategy aimed at eliminating the menace in Ghanaian society.
He said all studies into child labour had clearly shown that the issues concerning child labour were a matter of confusion on the part of many stakeholders and the public.
He, therefore, commended ICI for the training for MPs who are key stakeholders in the strategy to end child labour.
Mr Philip Basoah, MP for Kumawu and Chairperson of the Parliamentary Select Committee said standing order 184 of Parliament mandated them to ensure that labour and child welfare was in line with the rules and regulations.
He described the engagement as timely since about 14 out of the 20 members on the committee were new members and expressed the hope that the needed platform would be created to enhance their function.
Dr Kwabena Donkor, the ranking member of the committee, said considering Ghana's role in the cocoa production industry globally, the distinction between child work which is devoid of exploitation and child labour ought to be made clear.
He added that the issue of child labour and exploitation must be tackled holistically and that children working on cocoa farms should not be the only focus of child labour.
He said children begging on the streets and selling at the expense of education must also be looked at in the context of child labour.