GFD Seeks Consideration in Gov’t Programming
Friday, August 17, 2012
Speaking during an opening ceremony of the Draft Disability Bill validation workshop at the Kairaba Beach Hotel on Tuesday 14, Isatou Sanyang, Chairperson of the Gambia Federation for Disable Board, urged the government to consider people with disabilities in its programmes.
The draft Disability Bill validation workshop, which brought together different experts from both government and private bodies, aimed at promoting the rights to protecting and empowering persons living with disabilities.
With The Gambia being among the few African countries that did not sign or ratify the UN Convention on the rights of persons with disabilities, GFD is on the strive to seeing that section 31 of the 1997 Constitution is respected by all Gambians, as well as have the government sign and ratify the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.
“Persons with disabilities are some of the most vulnerable people in our society. For many years now, The Gambia Federation of the Disabled has worked in partnership with the department of Social Welfare to support the realisation of the rights of the people with disabilities,” Sanyang said.
According to Sanyang, life in The Gambia was very difficult for the people with disabilities, as they continually face stigma and discrimination, adding that many children with disabilities are not sent to school by their family members, and therefore have limited access to training or employment opportunities later in life.
“It is a common misunderstanding that including people with disabilities costs money, this can’t be used as an excuse not to take action. However, does it cost more to build a ramp than to build steps? No. Does it cost more to make a toilet door wider, so that a wheelchair user can have access? No,” she said
Sanyang recalled that last month Trust Bank rebuilt their Bakau Branch without a ramp. This was taken as an issue by them and the bank reacted by building a ramp to ease the movement of the physically challenged people.
Also speaking was Bully Dibba, the deputy Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Health and Social Welfare, who was deputising for Minister Fatim Badjie said thousands of people in this country suffer from some form of disability.
“Whether disabled or not, you should be dedicated to helping everyone to understand the plight of the disabled, and struggle for their acceptance and integration into mainstream society,” he said.
Permanent Secretary Dibba noted that all non-disabled people in the country discriminate against people with disability, knowing or unknowingly and every Gambian should believe that people with disabilities have the same rights and responsibilities.
“Africa is not an easy place to have disability, as stigma and discrimination are unfortunately widespread in our houses, schools, work places, and this takes time to change,” he said. He urged the GFD and the society to work together to make sure that everyone in the country, disabled or not, has the same access to health, education, employment and socio-cultural opportunities.
Dr. Hendry D.R. Carrol, a legal consultant, said it is paramount to know that disability is a life issue, saying that people with disabilities should be taken on board.
“The Gambia is a democratic state, in which the majority, in consultation with the minority, should take a decision and the persons with disabilities are the people that form the minority. Therefore, they should not be sidelined. Disability does not mean inability,” he said.
Author: Abdoulie Nget