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‘Kayayei Phenomenon Calls For Comprehensive Policy’   
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This year, there is a pledge by all nations to help women and girls achieve their ambitions, challenge conscious and unconscious bias, call for gender-balanced leadership, value women and men's contributions equally and create inclusive, flexible cultures that would accelerate the growth, development and progress of women.

In Ghana, it is not uncommon to find young female porters, popularly known as ‘kayayei’, carrying loads and soliciting loads in the various markets nationwide.

Majority of the children are between the ages of five to 15. They do not attend school, face severe health hazards, live in squalor and those who work in the night suffer sexual harassment.

Rights of children

Though the Children’s Act (Act 560) that provides for the rights of children prohibits their engagement in exploitative labour, the kayayei phenomenon has all the characteristics of exploitative labour.

Proposals contained in a report of the Parliamentary Select Committee on Gender and Children, signed by its Chairperson,  Mrs Laadi Ayii Ayamba,  which was released to the House recently, said the phenomenon of female porters, popularly known as "Kayayei" had assumed a national dimension and required national attention and a comprehensive policy to address it.

Various solutions

The House, therefore, proposed some short, medium and long-term solutions to effectively deal with the problem.

 They include a national survey on the phenomenon,  increasing budget for the Gender Ministry, interventions in identified migrant areas,  education on family planning, strict enforcement of the Children's Act, creation of shelters in the three regions in the north of Ghana and the development of infrastructure in the north, among other interventions.

They also recommended that a more thorough national survey should be conducted on the phenomenon by a team of officials from the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection, Ghana Statistical Service and other stakeholders in order to obtain a comprehensive situational analysis of the ‘Kayayei’ phenomenon.

Views from some ‘kayayei’

To mark the 2016 International Women’s Day, the Daily Graphic asked some ‘kayayei’ on the streets of Accra why they migrated to Accra.

Shahadatu Suleman said she had completed junior high school but her mother could not pay for her senior high school education. She said she had migrated to Accra to work and buy things to send to her family at home and indicated that she would go back to school if she got enough money.

Another female porter, Mariama Iddrisu, said all her friends were working in Accra and sending money home to their families, so she had also come to join them in the trade in order to cater for her family, indicating her readiness to go back home and get married when she gets money.

Another one, Nahima Baba, said she relocated to Accra after her mother died.

She said because her father was old and weak and her grandmother did not have enough money to take care of her and her four siblings, she decided to come to Accra to work as a female porter to cater for them.

Asia Nuru’s story is not different from the others. She said she was working in Accra to take care of her family back home and said she made more money in Accra than back home.

She said her parents were alive but they encouraged her to work in Accra.
Source: Daily Graphic

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