Category Archives: Feature

Time to say “for every child in Ghana, let’s be fair.”

Accra, 9 May 2017 – Walk past any school yard with a group of children playing their favourite game, and it won’t be long before you hear the phrase, “It’s not fair! It’s not fair!”

As adults, we hardly say this. Not because we see less injustice as we grow up, rather society teaches us to become more accepting of the fact that sometimes life is just not fair. The issue though, is that if we do not call out unfairness for what it is, we begin to tolerate it. Worrying, as unfairness – or inequity – can also have a lasting detrimental impact not just on one person but on the community and society at large.

Children at a UNIC Accra-led outreach

Unfortunately, the landscape is not equitable for children across Ghana.  Let’s take the example of six-year-old twins Ata and Ataa. Ata is given ten mangoes to eat while Akosua is given two.  Is this fair? Of course not. So what if we were not talking about mangoes, but about the number of times they are taken to the clinic when sick, or going to school? Say, then, on the day Ata and Ataa are at the right age to be enrolled into Primary One Ata is taken to the school and attends every day. Ataa meanwhile is told her time will come and stays home to help with chores instead. Fair?

Unfortunately, this scenario is a reality for too many children across Ghana.  Currently 90 percent of boys and girls are enrolled in primary level.  This means 10 percent of children – that’s one child in every ten – is not in primary school. This is a significant proportion of children denied the chance to reach their fullest potential. And that is not fair.

A child on a school compound

What if within that 10 percent of unschooled there was a child with the talent and ability to become one of Ghana’s most skilled surgeons competing with the likes of Prof. Kwabena Frimpong-Boateng?  Or the next Secretary General of the United Nations like HE. Kofi Annan? Turning a blind eye to these inequities does not just disadvantage the child who’s not able to get to school, it also obstructs substantial progress of the whole country.

It is not just education where we see these disparities.  So far not every child has access to good sanitation, in the form of household or school toilet facilities. Every child does not have easy access to adequate healthcare and not all mothers are given a chance to fully understand the benefits of feeding girls and boys well from birth.

How fair is it that a child born to a family in Accra can have up to 100 times as much an opportunity as a child born in Wa? Surely it should be that wherever a child lives in Ghana, she or he has a fair chance of achieving the same opportunities.

This imbalance of a fair chance for every child does not impact just the child, it can also affect the country’s entire economy. The economic costs of such inequity can be dramatic. Recent global data indicates that increasing a country’s average years of schooling by just one year can result in an 18 per cent increase in GDP per capita.

Because a child’s gender, family income, region where he is born and her ability or disability can play a significant role in determining the outcome in life, we need to level up the playing field. The starting line cannot be the same for everyone.  But substantial change can be achieved if the most disadvantaged are empowered to realise their own potential.

By investing more in education and implementing more equitable policies, we can reverse current trends in which the poorest and most marginalized miss out.

So, similar to children in a school yard, it’s time for us to start calling out unfairness. Together, we can say, ‘Let’s be fair. Let’s give every child in Ghana a chance to succeed.”

Let’s Be Fair, let’s even up the odds, so that every child has a chance to fully thrive and realise their fullest potential.  If we do, who knows what the landscape could be for Ghana’s next 60 years.

Written by: Susan Namondo Ngongi, UNICEF Ghana Representative

Nelson Mandela International Day 2014: The year without Madiba

Accra, 17 July 2014 –  For the fifth consecutive year on the 18th of July – the day Nelson Mandela was born –the United Nations supports a call by the Nelson Mandela Foundation to devote 67 minutes of our time to help others, as a way to mark Nelson Mandela International Day. This year, the world commemorates the Day for the first time without this world icon, who promoted the use of time for the good of humanity when he said “We must use time wisely and forever realize that the time is always ripe to do right”.

Mandela raises his fist in the air while addressing the Special Committee Against Apartheid in the General Assembly Hall in June 1990

Mandela raises his fist in the air while addressing the Special Committee Against Apartheid in the General Assembly Hall in June 1990

It has been seven months since Madiba, one of the greatest leaders in modern history, bowed out of this world stage of despair, opportunities, challenges, hope and possibilities. But it feels like just yesterday when the world, through the eyes of the media, besieged the residence of Nelson Mandela in South Africa, to hear and see the breaking story of his passing.

As the world keeps celebrating his life, it is only appropriate, and justifiably so, that we reflect on his perspective of time to also use our time wisely for the good of humanity. Mandela devoted 67 years of his life to the service of humanity – as a human rights lawyer, a prisoner of conscience, an international peacemaker and the first democratically elected president of a free South Africa.  He founded the “rainbow nation” out of the ruins of a deeply segregated apartheid society that many considered to be on the verge of civil war at the time. Through the spirit of reconciliation, guided by peace rather than vengeance, with visions of an inclusive future rather than retrospective resentment, Nelson Mandela touched not only the hearts of his country men and women, but people from all corners of the earth.

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“Climate Change Must be Seen as a Security Concern”

Accra, June 11, 2014 – “It has not been normal for rainstorms like these to happen at this time of the year, early in March.” President Mahama noted on this year’s rainy Independence Day. The President has done a great deal in raising concerns on climate change, and with the Former President H.E. John A. Kufuor serving as the UN Secretary-General’s Special Envoy on Climate Change, Ghana has great potential in not only taking the lead for the region in combating global warming, but also reshaping the agenda to highlight yet another dimension of climate change–the threat to peace and security.

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UN Peacekeeping: A Force for Peace, a Force for Change, a Force for the Future

Accra, May 29, 2014 – United Nations peacekeepers, made up of military, police and civilian personnel from various countries, including Ghana, have been operating for the past 66 years with the establishment in May 1948 of the first UN peacekeeping mission known as UN Truce Supervision Organisation to help bring stability in the Middle East. However, it was only in December 2002 that the UN General Assembly designated May 29 as the International Day of United Nations Peacekeepers. Hence this year is the 11th commemoration of the International of UN Peacekeepers.

Ghana Armed Forces on parade

Ghana Armed Forces on parade

Ghana’s involvement in peacekeeping operations dates back to the 1960s when she first deployed troops as part of the UN Peacekeeping Operations (PKO) in the then Congo Republic (ONUC). Ghana has since been a consistent contributor to UN peace restoration efforts. Today, she ranks the 8th on the list of 122 countries contributing to UN peacekeeping personnel with a current record of 236 police, 65 military experts and 2,691 troops totaling 2992 (286 female and 2706 male) uniformed personnel serving on nine UN peacekeeping operation missions out of the 17 DPKO-led peace operations as at April this year.

It is therefore not surprising that many developed countries readily assisted to build the state-of-the-art Kofi Annan International Peacekeeping Training Centre (KAIPTC) here in Ghana to train both UN, Regional and sub-Regional personnel for PSOs at the operational level.  KAIPTC receives assistance from many foreign countries includingthe US, Canada, Japan, India the EU.

The Ghana Police Services also helps to build local police capacities in areas of police operations, administration, criminal investigations, community policing, election monitoring, and public order management.

Personnel of the Ghana Prisons Service deployed to peacekeeping missions are mainly engaged in Mentoring, Advising, Coaching and Training of local staff. Other duties include developing policies, procedures, systems, reviewing of existing prisons legislations for the prisons to function according to modern trends and international best practices. They also create linkages between the prisons and other UN Agencies and International NGOs for assistance and partnership. Other personnel with special professions such as Agriculture, Engineering, Legal and Prison Rehabilitation, ICT, Vocational Training and Psychiatric/General Nursing are employed to perform specific duties in their areas of specialty.

Download the full article by UNIC Accra.

UN Peacekeeping: A Force for the Future

Accra, May 28, 2014 – It was a dark, February night in the hilly North Kivu province of Eastern Congo. At 02h45 a small, silent Unarmed Unmanned Aerial Vehicle, circled the sky around a village in Masisi territory and sent back live video of a group of armed men who had recently overrun a local military post. As the UUAV relayed pictures to a control room, senior military officers prepared to move their soldiers if the civilian populations in the area were directly threatened. The attack never materialized, but if it had, the band of marauders would have gotten a most unpleasant welcome. This scene isn’t from a Hollywood studio film — it’s happening right now with the UN Peacekeeping force in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

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The legacy of Nelson Mandela: A life worth celebrating

Accra – In his message to mark this year’s Nelson Madela International Day, the United Nations Secretary-General Ban ki-moon clearly articulated the world’s impression of the man called Nelson Mandela: “…an extraordinary man who embodies the highest values of humanity…[and] we are united in admiration for a giant of our times.” A giant with strong determination, zeal and spirit to fight for the cause he believes in, which is a “democratic and free society”.  This ideal he once noted “is an ideal which I hope to live for and to achieve.  But if needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die.”

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