Stakeholders meeting on young migrant girls ‘kayayei’ and awareness raising through distribution of solar lamps

UNCT-GH-photo-by-IOM-Accra-2017IOM Ghana Chief of Mission, Ms Sylvia Lopez-Ekra, handing over solar lamps to Mr. Mohammed Salifu, Head of Agbogbloshie Head Porters Association (photo by IOM Ghana 2017)

6 February 2018, Accra, Ghana

IOM is committed to gender mainstreaming of all IOM’s migration management activities. IOM, in collaboration with the UN Gender Team (UNGT), contributes to the national commitment to promote gender equality and women’s empowerment to work towards achieving SDG 5 in Ghana.

On 20 December 2017, IOM, in collaboration with the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection, hosted a stakeholders’ meeting to pool knowledge and expertise from Governmental and non-government representatives working with the Kayayei, including UN Agencies, Ministries, NGOs as well as representatives of Kayayei associations.

The Kayayei are girls, as young as six years old, who migrate mainly from the three northern rural regions of Ghana in hopes of generating income for themselves and their families in urban centres such as Accra and Kumasi, carrying loads for traders and other customers in exchange for money.

The informal nature of this work exposes the Kayayei to numerous human rights violations, including gender-based violence, verbal and physical abuse, theft and exploitation by patrons who either refuse to pay or who pay very little. Push and pull factors, including poverty, traditional harmful practices and difficulties in accessing education, as well as the existing demand for porter services in the markets, contribute to the persistence of these flows.

During the meeting, IOM presented the results of a baseline study to consolidate background information on known areas of origin and migration patterns, profile and organisation of the Kayayei, key protection issues and past and current interventions by government, UN and civil society.

Information from this study can support current planning and mapping work undertaken by the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection. Building on the conclusions of the study, participants had the opportunity to discuss issues in small working groups and to review the current situation, identify priority needs, gaps, lessons learnt, and share best practices to coordinate upcoming interventions.

IOM advocated for a comprehensive and coordinated approach to address the Kayayei phenomenon. Stakeholders shared information and discussed future interventions during the meeting.

Five Kayayei were also present at the meeting – the youngest being 13 years old – and participated very actively in the working group discussions to raise awareness of issues relating to the young migrant girls in Accra.

Mohammed Salifu, Head of the Agbogbloshie Head Porters Association also shared with the participants the story of a recent rape that took place in the neighbourhood after torrential rains had left the entire area in the dark.

The IOM Ghana Chief of Mission, Ms Sylvia Lopez-Ekra, distributed a total of 280 solar lamps; 230 individual solar lamps to Kayayeis, and 50 larger lanterns were given to trained Kayayei leaders.

Ms Sylvia Lopez-Ekra stated that the solar lanterns distributed by IOM will have an important protective impact for the Kayayei recipients, especially those who sleep in the open.

The representative of the Minister of Gender, Children and Social Protection, Comfort Asare, Director of Gender, commended IOM for organising this timely meeting and informed the meeting participants of the Ministry’s plan to roll out a comprehensive mapping of all the Kayayei in the upcoming year.

IOM continues to advocate for a comprehensive and coordinated approach to address the Kayayei phenomenon.