As part of its commitment to the implementation of the ECOWAS Strategic Framework for strengthening National Child Protection System, to protect children in Liberia from violence, abuse and exploitation (2018-2030); the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection and the Ministry of Labour in collaboration with ILO organized a 5 – Day National Step Down Workshop on the Guidelines for the implementation of the Strategic Framework from the 6th -10th of August, 2019 at the Boulevard Palace Hotel, Monrovia. The Strategic Framework which was adopted by Ministers at the ECOWAS Ministerial Meeting held in Niamey, Niger in October, 2017, and approved by the ECOWAS Heads of States and Governments in December 2017, contains 10 Commitments towards children in the region with focus on 5 priority areas: Violence Against Children, Child Marriage, Child Labour, Birth Registration and Children on the Move.
The workshop which drew participants from line Ministries, Agencies of Government, Civil Societies Organizations, and Non-Governmental Organizations was funded by the European Union in collaboration with the ECOWAS Commission through the International Labour Organization, under the framework to support the Free Movement of Persons and Migration in West Africa.
The Participants acknowledged the efforts of the Liberia government in addressing the seemingly insurmountable and critical challenges confronting children in the country. They appreciated the efforts of government in providing reliable data that will assist in planning for service delivery to children through the National Action Plan on the Elimination of Child Labour, the Child Protection Policy and the National Child Welfare and Protection Action Plan. However in line with the systems approach to Child Protection advocated in the Strategic framework, the following recommendations were made:
- There is a need for concerted collaboration and coordinated action by all child protection stakeholders to ensure that Liberia fulfils her obligations to children in line with the 10 commitments and the 5 priority areas as contained in the strategic framework;
- That Ministries, Agencies and Commissions (MACs) of government in child protection prioritize and create budget lines for child protection activities as specified in the Guidelines for implementation of the ECOWAS Strategic Framework for child protection;
- That the private sector (Businesses and individuals) is engaged to allocate resources as part of the their corporate social responsibilities to implement child labour and child protection initiatives;
- That the capacity of child protection actors is continuously strengthened
- Partnership, collaboration and networking among MACs, private organizations and relevant child protection actors be strengthened for holistic approach to Child Protection issues;
- Awareness creation on Girl Child Education should be vigorously carried out by Ministry of Education, Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection and relevant MACs to ensure girls are enrolled, retained and complete the senior secondary education as a way of addressing the challenges of child marriage;
- Continuous advocacy/sensitization and awareness creation on the ratification of the ILO Convention 138, Hague Convention on Intercountry Adoption, implementation of the Liberian Children Law, and other relevant laws and policies to address child protection issues;
- Campaign for birth registration, especially for abandoned children, and family planning should be intensified with focus on the hard–to-reach areas as a child protection strategy;
- National Government (Ministry of Education) continue and enforce the free quality and basic education for every child, and Child Protection should be included in relevant training institutions curriculum to enhance knowledge in prevention and response.
- School Feeding Programme should be extended to all public primary schools and monitor by the Ministry of Education, Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection, and Ministry of Agriculture to promote enrolment, retention and completion of primary education by children;
- The training on ECOWAS Guidelines for the implementation of the Strategic Framework should be further stepped down to enhance child protection system strengthening and to stimulate actions by child protection and labour actors at the local level;
- As a means of Strengthening National Child Protection system, a Technical Working Group (TWG) on Children on the Move should be established as a subset of the Child Protection Network and chaired by Liberia Refugee Repatriation and Resettlement Commission(LRRRC), with membership drawn from Liberia Immigration Services (LIS), The Liberia National Police, Custom, Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection, Ministry of Labour, Ministry of Education, Ministry of Information and Culture Affairs , Ministry of Health, Media , Donor Partners, CSOs, INGOs etc.;
- Each Ministry, Agency, Commission and CSO, to report to the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection within the framework of the Child Protection Network on the implementation of the Strategic Framework as it affects their organization.
Dated this day 10th August , 2019