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Livelihood opportunities critical for northern women

2014-01-13 22:21:36
This article has been read 790 times.

The creation of livelihood opportunities for women in the northern part of the country is critical in dealing with the influx of underaged girls to urban Accra to engage in head porterage, popularly called ‘Kayayei’.

This came to light at a sensitisation meeting with the Women and Children (Mother-to-Child) Sub-Committee of the Sissala West District at Gwollu in the Upper West Region.

The meeting identified other factors that accounted for the phenomenon to include widespread poverty, large family size resulting in high dependency and chronic food insecurity.

The forum was organised by a non-governmental social work, children, women and marginalised group’s advocacy and policy influencing organisation, Centre for Development Initiative (CDI).

The CDI is collaborating with the Women and Children Sub-Committees of the Madina and Adentan Municipal Assemblies which are considered to be the receiving, transit and distribution districts of children mostly from the Sissala West District.

Causes of migration

Outlining the major causes which serve as push factors for women and children to migrate, the committee observed that the long period of the dry season, coupled with the fact that access to livelihood opportunities by women to engage in off-season income generation activities (farming) was a major factor.

“Migrating with their children - sometimes with or without the approval of their husbands and parents - is used as a survival strategy. Unfortunately, some of them often fail to return and their children also end up becoming ‘professional’ kayayee,” the committee observed.

Addressing members of the committee, the Executive Director of CDI, Mr Alexis Danikuu, noted that the rate at which underaged children were being transported from the district to the urban centres, especially Accra, to engage in kayayee was alarming.

Human capital challenge

He said the situation constituted a major challenge to the human capital formation of the district and the country as a whole.

“This is because a poorly and inappropriately trained work force cannot contribute meaningfully to the development of this country, leading to reduced productivity and resulting in a vicious cycle of poverty,” Mr Danikuu explained.

He said since the issue of the street children phenomena was a major political campaign issue in the run up to the 2012 election, “the government must do more to deal with the problem.”

He reiterated the point that the successful implementation of the LEAP programme as well as aspects of the SADA, which dealt with women livelihood empowerment, was critical in this regard.

He said children, especially girls as young as seven years, could be found serving as carriers of goods (head porters otherwise known as kayayee), washers of dishes in local restaurants, house helps, babysitters and some even were forced into prostitution.

Mr Danikuu said by working with the sub-committees, the CDI aimed to contribute to the national efforts in dealing with the worst forms of child labour and trafficking.

Giving the background of the project, he said it was focused on building the capacities of committee members on the concepts, forms and practical measures the assemblies could do to prevent, protect and mitigate the impact of the phenomena on those who were already in the streets in their respective municipal and district assemblies.


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