Journalists have been encouraged to intensify conversation and advocacy around issues of access to decent work principles and social protection schemes to promote inclusive development.
Ms Esther Ohenewaa Brown, the Communications Manager of ActionAid Ghana, a Non-Governmental Organisation, who made the call urged journalists to mainstream such issues into their work and engage stakeholders especially duty bearers to account for the implementation of their programmes.
This, she said, would help to ensure the vulnerable, particularly rural smallholder farmers, had access to decent work and social protection schemes to help strengthen their livelihoods and rights and help them to live dignified lives.
Ms Brown was speaking on the sidelines of a two-day media training workshop on decent work principles and social protection schemes, organised for selected journalists from the Upper East Region and held in Bolgatanga.
It was organised by ActionAid Ghana as part of the implementation of the Northern Ghana Integrated Project and funded by the European Union, to improve the journalists’ knowledge on decent work principles and existing social protection schemes in Ghana.
The training was meant to equip the journalists with knowledge and skills to raise awareness and advocate for the expansion of social protection schemes such as the Livelihood Empowerment Against Poverty (LEAP), the National Health Insurance Scheme and School Feeding Programme among others, to cover more rural communities .
It was to also build the capacity of journalists to influence government policies on decent work at the local assembly and national level, to develop a clear roadmap for the enforcement of decent work principles in the agriculture sector.
The Communications Manager noted that series of research conducted by ActionAid Ghana had revealed that many smallholder farmers particularly women did not have decent work and those engaged by agribusinesses did not have contracts and any level of social security.
“So, if something should happen to them, these people have nothing to fall on, they do not have any proper retirement packages, if they should fall sick, there is no safety net, but these people have dependents,” she lamented.
She said the emergence of the COVID-19 had further accelerated the vulnerability of people especially smallholder farmers compelling them to accept jobs without any security and underscored the need to address the challenges they faced to ensure decency at work.
Ms Brown observed that some of the existing social protection schemes such as the LEAP, NHIS, school feeding programme and access to financing for women among others were not benefiting the vulnerable in some cases but rather those who were politically connected.
“Our advocacy is that we need to look for ways and means that the institutions that are mandated to deliver these public services do the targeting right and not give it to people who are not supposed to be given and we need the media who have the platform to support this advocacy,” she said.
Dr Eliasu Mumuni, the Vice Dean, Faculty of Communication and Media Studies at the University for Development Studies, noted that smallholder farmers particularly women contributed significantly to the economy but faced numerous challenges.
He said it was imperative for journalists to appreciate those challenges and prioritise them in their work in order to ensure that issues affecting vulnerable communities were addressed for sustainable development.
Mr Sulemana Alhassan, the Upper East Regional Manager of ActionAid Ghana reiterated the commitment of ActionAid to contributing to developing rural communities and urged the media to support their efforts.
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