Maternity leave period should be six months – Speaker

Accra- Professor Aaron Mike Oquaye, the Speaker of Parliament has reiterated the need to extend the maternity leave period from three to six months to enable mothers raise healthy children.

I have advocated and will continue to do so that our maternity leave period should be six months so that a mother would have ample time to take care of her baby, he noted.

Professor Oquaye was speaking at the World Children’s Day Celebration and launch of Children’s Parliament held in Accra.

The Celebration also coincided with the 30 years of the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), which Ghana was first to ratify.

He recommended it to Dr Kojo Appiah-Kubi, Chairman of the Parliamentary Committee on Gender, Children and Social Protection, to take it up to the appropriate committee and said together, they would see to make it a reality.

The Speaker said the rights of children were inter-woven with those of their mothers and that those of the children should not be fought for in isolation.

He said fighting for the rights of children included; good health thus, since every foetus develops in a woman, they must give birth on beds, have access to hospitals, so as to give birth to healthy babies who would become healthy young people and be useful to the society.

Professor Oquaye said some women give birth in circumstances that were not the best and many people deprived them of things that made them to suffer some form of kwashiorkor and other related areas, adding that all pointed out to one thing, that Ghana must look out to an affirmative action law and the emancipation of women in a manner that would promote the rights of the child.

He urged all to promote the rights of the child and not take advantage of the innocence and abuse them, particularly, sexual abuse, among others.

In as much as Ghanaian children were taught to participate in the cardinal principles of the CRC, they need to be impacted with societal ideals, beliefs and values, he urged.

He called on the arms of government, law enforcing agencies, traditional leaders, Civil Society Organisations, private and public sectors, media, parents, teachers and care givers to re-affirm their commitments on an occasion like this towards the realisation of children’s rights as a measure to improve on the lives of children.

Professor Oquaye advised children to fear God, obey rules and learn hard to be good future leaders coupled with the traditional values they had and said these were the main sources of good behaviour in the life of a Ghanaian child.

He encouraged them to be hardworking and shun criminal behaviour in order to become good future leaders.

Madam Hajia Alima Mahama, Minister of Local Government and Rural Development who read a speech on behalf of the Vice President said, the United Nations member states had to collectively take action to address the difficulties that children experienced in their lives.

She stated that the difficulties included exploitation, starvation, lack of shelter and sometimes killing of children in the war-torn countries and with no parental care.

Madam Cynthia Mamle Morrison, Minister of Gender, Children and Social Protection said there should be a new era for the protection of children, adequate resources for child protection issues, responsible parenting, full implementation of law protecting children and an era where children had peace and happiness they needed to grow into responsible adults.

She said that every duty bearer must wake up to their roles and responsibilities and make the children grow up happy and protected from all harm and abuse.

Dr Appiah-Kubi said though Ghana achieved a lot with the ratification of the CRC, many continued to suffer from extreme poverty, child labour, physical abuse and others that took away their self-confidence.

During the Children’s Parliament session, the children appealed to the law enforcing agencies to crack the whip to protect their liberties.

Source: Ghana News Agency