The Minister of Gender, Children and Social Protection, Nana Oye Lithur, has described the female porters (kayayei ) phenomenon as a national challenge that can only be addressed through a holistic national and inter-sectoral approach.
“The development, well being and best interest of these young girls must be a priority of all of us and not my ministry alone. A holistic national and inter sectoral approach is what is required to solve the problem. This would require ministry and the ministries of Health, the Interior, Education, Trade, Agriculture, Chieftaincy and other relevant development partners and civil society to work together,” she said.
Mrs Lithur stated this when she made a statement on the floor of Parliament yesterday on the phenomenon of female head porters popularly known as Kayayei.
The minister’s presence was at the instance of the Speaker, Mr Edward Doe Adjaho, who summoned her to brief the House on the measures put in place to address the problem.
The Speaker summoned her after the member for Oforikrom, Mrs Elizabeth Agyeman, made a statement on the plight of kayayei in the country.
Ending the practice depended on government policies and services that improved living standards and economic opportunities for the people in the supply areas, especially in the three regions in the north, Mrs Lithur indicated.
Although she described the problem as a national problem which required an inter-sectoral approach, Mrs Lithur appeared before the House with her own proposals.
Firstly, she proposed the extension of the Livelihood Empowerment Against Poverty (LEAP) to Kayayei.
This, she recommended should be done in a manner that went to the root of the problem as exists in Brazil and Mexico, where similar cash transfers have been phenomenal successes.
Mrs Lithur stated that if the LEAP was well targeted to Kayayei and their families, it can, in the long term, be developed as a major part of Ghana’s social intervention programme.
She also called for a collaboration with the Domestic Violence and Victims Support Unit (DOVVSU) and the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ) to hold accountable, through criminal prosecution or other legal processes, the parents of children who engaged in the phenomenon.
The Children’s Act, she said, prohibited the engagement of children in exploitative labour and added that the kayayei phenomenon had all the characteristics of exploitative labour.
For long term measures, Mrs Lithur proposed the establishment of small scale manufacturing industries, such as garment, bead-making, pomade and soap factories in the areas where kayayei migrate from to employ current and would-be kayayei.
“This can be achieved through the Skills Development Fund, National Board for Small Scale Industries, among others. This, in essence, is to progressively reduce the rural-urban drift of the current number of young people to the south in search of jobs. The challenge here would be identifying markets for the products,” she said.
Mrs Lithur also called for the integration of the kayayei into the ICT for Accelerated Development (ICT4D) in the longer term.
Measures ministry intends to take soon
Mrs Lithur said in the immediate to short-term, the ministry intended to embark on an identification and registration exercise which had been slated to be carried out by the Department of Children (DOC) and a Two-Prong Rescue Plan (TPRP) which the ministry had developed for 2014.
The data obtained, she said, would greatly assist the ministry to design its interventions to assist Kayayei and progressively curb the practice.
Following the identification and registration exercise, she added, a mapping exercise to inform targeted social protection measures such as the inclusion of the kayeyei in the LEAP and the National Health Insurance Scheme would be carried out.