The Speaker of Parliament, Professor Mike Oquaye, has said society has a right and an inherent duty to impart good ideas and values in children while they enjoy their childhood.
Describing childhood as a period of innocence, liberty and emptiness, he said society must ensure that the rights of children were not abused.
Prof. Oquaye said this when he inaugurated the first Children’s Parliament in Accra yesterday as part of this year’s World Children’s Day celebration.
The Children’s Parliament, organised by the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection, in collaboration with the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), also formed part of activities marking the 30th anniversary of the enactment of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC).
Prof. Oquaye said as children were left to enjoy their childhood in innocence, they were also ready to learn and acquire ideas, beliefs and values from society which could be good or bad.
Prof. Oquaye also appealed to traditional leaders, as the custodians of customs, traditions and values, to support in the development of children.
He said the formation of the Children’s Parliament was going to provide an opportunity for all to reaffirm their commitment to the rights of children.
The Speaker further expressed the readiness of Parliament to give children the needed support and mentorship as they deliberated on issues affecting their well-being in society.
The wife of the Vice-President, Mrs Samira Bawumia, said when the abuse of children in society stopped, children could enjoy their childhood and realise their full potential.
She said no form of violence against children was justifiable.
According to her, all forms of violence and child abuse were preventable and, therefore, called on society to be concious of the way they treated children.
The Minister of Local Government and Rural Development, Hajia Alima Mahama, said it was time to take bold actions to ensure that no child was left behind in the development process of the country.
The Minister of Gender, Children and Social Protection, Mrs Cynthia Morrison, also said the ministry had, over the years, identified the inclusion of children’s views as critical to the developmental process of the country.
The UNICEF Regional Director for West and Central Africa, Mrs Marie-Pierre Poirier, commended the Gender Ministry for its efforts to ensure that children’s rights were protected in the country.
The UNCRC is a legally binding international agreement which deals with the civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights of every child, regardless of his or her race, religion or abilities.
The treaty was adopted by UN Member States on November 20, 1989.
Ghana signed the UNCRC on January 29, 1990, and on February 5, 1990, it became the first country in the world to ratify it.
The UNCRC consists of 54 articles that set out children’s rights and how governments should work together to make them beneficial to all children.
Under the terms of the convention, governments are required to meet children’s basic needs and also help them reach their full potential.
Central to this is the acknowledgment that every child has basic fundamental rights.