FULFILL YOUR COMMITMENT TO PROMOTE INCLUSIVENESS AND EQUALITY – CDD-GHANA TO GOVERNMENT
The Ghana Center for Democratic Development (CDD-Ghana) wishes to congratulate the Ghana Federation of Disability Organizations (GFD), National Disability Council, Civil Society advocates of the rights of Persons with Disabilities (PwDs) and Ghanaians as we mark this year’s International Day for PWDs. The day, being commemorated under a laudable theme: “Empowering Persons with Disabilities and Ensuring Accessibility, Inclusiveness and Equality,” presents a great opportunity for government and its agencies, CSOs and all citizens to reflect on how well we have performed on the implementation of the Disability Act 2006 (Act 715) and the United Nations Convention on Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD) towards accessibility, inclusion and equality for PwDs.
Despite the passage of the Disability Act more than 10 years ago, PwDs in the country continue to have major challenges in accessing and making use of public infrastructure. CDD-Ghana is disappointed that since the passage of the Act in 2006, and the ratification of the UN Convention on the Right of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD) in 2012, successive governments have flouted and/or disregarded the provisions of the law. They have also failed to implement the UNCRPD which demands that government amends its existing laws to be in tune with the UNCRPD. Article 9 (1) of the UNCRPD demands among others that to enable persons with disabilities to live independently and participate fully in all aspects of life, government and its agencies must take appropriate measures to ensure persons with disabilities have access, on an equal basis with others, to the physical environment, to transportation, to information and communications, including information and communications technologies and systems, and to other facilities and services open or provided the public, both in urban and rural settings. This, we have woefully failed as a nation and abused the rights of PwDs.
Although the Ghana Accessibility Standard for the Built environment (GASB) was launched in 2016 to provide specifications for policy makers, implementers and service providers to ensure quality and non-discriminatory services in the built environment in Ghana as a means of contributing to a universal accessibility in the built environment, it is regrettable to note that its implementation is not being prioritized to ensure PwDs have dignity in using the country’s public infrastructure.
CDD-Ghana is also very much concerned that government’s flagship programs, such as the Free Senior High School policy currently on-going, has no deliberate policy guidelines to ensure PwDs inclusively and equally benefit from this initiative as some mainstream schools are reported to have refused PwDs admission despite the existence of a National Inclusive Education Policy.
CDD-Ghana wishes to remind government of the critical place inclusiveness resides within the United Nations (UN) Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) with its tagline “leaving no one behind”, which seeks to promote inclusive societies. The President of Ghana is the co-chair of the SDGs and has also signed on to the Open Government Partnership (OGP) which further promotes active citizen participation and inclusion. Ghana cannot achieve its developmental potential if a section of its people are excluded from contributing their quota due to failures of governments to take the necessary action.
To help ensure an inclusive environment which aids the mobility of PWDs to effectively participate in national development, CDD-Ghana requests government to urgently undertake the following actions:
i. Amendment of the Disability Act to conform with the UNCRPD;
ii. Total compliance of article 9 of the UNCRPD to ensure full accessibility to public transport and all public infrastructure;
iii. Adequate resourcing of the National Disability Council; and
iv. Development of policy guidelines for PWDs on Free Senior High School Education.
CDD-Ghana believes all citizens must be enabled to contribute their quota to national development which can only be achieved through access and equal opportunity for all.
For more information, please contact:
Efua Idan Atadja
Communication Specialist, CDD-Ghana