The Minister for Gender, Children and Social Protection, Hon. Otiko Afisah Djaba has called on Cocoa farmers in Ghana to prioritize their children’s education and desist from using them as “labourers” on their farms.

According to the Minister, the core responsibility of every parent is to send their children to school, protect them from harm, abuses, among others, but not to engage them in hard labour.

Speaking at the 2017 Mondelez International Cocoa Life Learning Conference in Accra, Hon. Otiko Djaba condemned the frequent manner in which the rights of Ghanaian children are abused including denial of education.

She encouraged the farmers to take advantage of the Free Compulsory Universal Basic Education (FCUBE) and the Free Senior High School education policy of the government to educate their children and secure a better future for them.

She described as “criminal” for any parent to deny a child formal education, which she noted is punishable by law and attracts a penalty of one-year imprisonment or a fine of GHS500.00 or both.

“Children are the future leaders of our country and it is the duty of those of us in leadership; traditional rulers, religious leaders, parents and the society at large to develop them for the future’.

Otiko Djaba on the other hand, charged men in the Cocoa Industry to create a strong partnership with their wives and ensure equitable distribution of every wealth they jointly generate from their cocoa farms.

The Minister strongly kicked against situations where the male cocoa farmers sideline their hardworking wives who had labored with them and decide to marry new wives, shower them with expensive gifts and build houses or buy cars at the neglect of their legitimate wives.

She called for total respect for women, their protection and participation in social, economic and political development of Ghana.

She maintained that women form a greater percentage of Ghana’s population (51%), and that their voices must be heard and be allowed to fully participate in every decision making that affects them.

Urging women of Ghana to take advantage of the various pro-poor policies of the New Patriotic Party (NPP) Government, the Gender Minister appealed to the various traditional rulers to make lands available for women for agricultural and other economic activities especially those interested in the Planting for Food and Jobs initiative of the Government.  

She affirmed the Government commitment to empowering more Ghanaian women to become business women or entrepreneurs and economic leaders of the country to enable them to contribute meaningfully to the economic development of Ghana.

Otiko Djaba also called on the leaders of the Cocoa Industry especially Cocoa Life to develop a more women-friendly cocoa value chain that would encourage more women to venture into farming.

The 2017 Mondelez International Cocoa Life Learning Conference was on the theme: “Women Empowerment 2.0: the Mondelez International Cocoa Life Strategy for Sustainable Cocoa Production in Ghana”.

The Objective is to provide evidence of best practices to enable participants to develop innovative strategies, measures and ideas that would strengthen and empower women in the cocoa supply chain in Ghana.  

The Mondelez International Cocoa Life is the cocoa sustainability programme of the Mondelez International, established in Ghana in 2008 with a vision of “empowered, thriving, cocoa communities as the essential foundation for sustainable cocoa”.