Academic journal article Social Development Issues

Promoting Social Justice and Human Rights among Vulnerable Populations: Implications for a Social Development Approach in Ghana

Academic journal article Social Development Issues

Promoting Social Justice and Human Rights among Vulnerable Populations: Implications for a Social Development Approach in Ghana

Article excerpt


The intention of this article is to examine the issues of inequality, injustice, and discrimination experienced by vulnerable populations (children, women, people with disabilities, and the elderly) in Ghana. These populations will be examined from the perspectives of social justice and human rights inequalities. Implications for the adoption and incorporation of a social development approach will be discussed. Social justice is an ideal condition that is based on the premise that all members of society ought to enjoy the same basic rights, protection, opportunities, obligations, and social benefits. Human rights are universal, inalienable, and indivisible and, without discrimination or oppression, they are the inherent birthrights of all human beings, regardless of their nationality, sex, gender, ethnicity, religion, and color of skin.

Ghana, a democratic, independent country, is a member of the United Nations and has ratified almost all United Nations human rights and social justice conventions and treaties since its independence in 1957. Nationally, various constitutions have enshrined articles on fundamental human rights, social justice, and equality. Chapter 5 of the current 1992 constitution has twenty-one main sections and numerous subsections on fundamental human rights and freedoms (Republic of Ghana, 1992). Continentally, Ghana, as an active member of the African Union, has ratified and adopted a number of conventions and charters in line with continental cooperation and collaboration. Among these treaties and charters is the African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights, which was adopted in 1981 and came into effect in 1986. Among other things, this charter stipulated that freedom, equality, justice, and dignity are essential objectives for the achievement of the legitimate aspirations of the African peoples (African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights, 1986). The Protocol to the African Charter on the Rights of Women in Africa, African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child, and Declaration on Gender Equality in Africa were also signed and adopted by the government of Ghana.

Internationally, Ghana has ratified a number of United Nations conventions and charters related to universal human rights, women's rights, and rights of children and people with disabilities. Additionally, Ghana has ratified the following conventions: the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW); the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC); the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR); and the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD). All these national, continental, and international conventions and charters have obligations and responsibilities that must be fulfilled by all signatory nations, including Ghana, the focus country of this article.

Geoeconomically, Ghana is an English-speaking country with an area of 238,535 square kilometers that is bordered on the south by the Atlantic Ocean. Having gained independence from the British in 1957, Ghana has a Human Development Index ranking of 0.53 and is ranked 152nd of 182 countries (United Nations Development Programme [UNDP], 2010). According to The World Factbook (Central Intelligence Agency, 2015), the life expectancy of its 26.3 million people at birth is sixty-six years. Its population growth is 2.1 percent per year, its gross national income (GNI) is US$1,410 per capita, and its external debt is 52 percent of the gross national income (International Monetary Fund, 2003). Agriculture employs 60 percent of the workforce and accounts for 37 percent of the gross domestic product.

Persons with Disability in Ghana

It is estimated that about 10 percent of the population of Ghana (approximately 25 million) are persons with disability, and the main types of disability are visual impairment, hearing impairment, and physical disabilities (Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative, 2007). …

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