The Executive Director of Child Rights International Mr Bright Appiah held a press conference to discuss issues relating to a survey that was carried out during the 2016 elections based on the electoral commission’s efforts in providing special attention to the elderly, disabled, nursing mothers, pregnant women and parents with children under 5 years.
On Ghana’s previous voting day for the presidential and parliamentary elections, the Electoral Commission (EC) placed efforts into ensuring that the elderly and disabled voters receive the appropriate attention by security agencies to vote upon arrival. Due to improvements made by the EC for Ghana’s 2016 election, measures were put in place to give attention and support to women and children, specifically to nursing mothers, pregnant women and parents with children under 5 years old.
“The objective of this analysis is to identify whether the electoral commission’s security agencies and polling agents gave attention and supported these group of people,” he explained.
CRI visited all the 10 regions, and journalists also supported with the data collection to cover a number of constituencies.
Security agencies showed a friendly attitude towards persons with disability and the aged which the EC needs to be applauded for their efforts in giving the majority the opportunity to vote upon arrival. In comparison to the 2012 elections, the 2016 elections were more organised, free of violence and more efficient.
“We observed discrepancies in the services provided for pregnant women, nursing mothers and parents with children under 5 years, and also most of the services provided were based on the initiatives of the people, but there was no general response from the system to give pregnant women, nursing mothers and parents with children under 5 years the attention and the support they need to vote,” Mr Appiah stated.
A child is anyone under the age of 18 years, so if pregnant women come to vote at a particular polling station, the state should be concerned with protecting the mother and her child as it is part of the law which can be seen under the Children’s Act, 1998.
Mr Appiah gave highlights on Greater Accra’s survey and what was observed: in Greater Accra, only 4 polling stations that did not give attention to persons with disabilities, But 57 of the polling stations we visited gave attention to persons with disabilities. 51 polling stations did not see pregnant women, but of the remaining 73, 65 polling stations paid attention to the pregnant women.
Vital issues were raised during the question and answer period.
A journalist from 3FM asked about the involvement of young children in political adverts, and what CRI’s expectations are from this incoming government with regards to vulnerable groups.
CRI has observed the 2016 elections to see whether political parties used children to make certain proclamations to support parties. We compared this to the 2000 elections and onwards and we realised that, as of 2016, there is a reduction in the use of children in political activities.
On our expectations from the NPP with regards to the vulnerable in society, we want to congratulate them for coming into office. They have made promises about social protection and we encourage them to put a lot of effort into social protection in Ghana.
Another journalist from TV3 asked about his conclusion and recommendations of this research and asked what should be done moving.
CRI always integrates the best interest of children, so moving forward the EC should always consider the rights of children and give vulnerable groups the opportunity to vote without undue stress. The EC should also continue with giving the aged and disabled the services and support they need.
Institutions in Ghana should protect the interests of children and how they are portrayed.