The Ministry of Justice, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and The Gambia Federation for the Disabled recently concluded a two-day synergy which sought to step up efforts towards the validation of the National Disability Bill and Draft Disability Integrated Policy.
The forum centred mainly on inclusive education for disabled children and special measures for the protection of women with disabilities alongside legal obligations.
The Bill is meant to bridge the gap between the disabled community and their workplaces, thereby encouraging their full participation in all walks of life.
Speaking at the opening session, Saffie Sankara, the Solicitor General and Legal Secretary at the Ministry of Justice, said the forum created an opportunity for them to reaffirm their commitment to the creation of a conducive environment so that all persons with disabilities are able to enjoy their rights and realise their full potential.
She added that it would help raise awareness on the legal framework and pertinent issues affecting the rights of persons with disabilities.
“It’s is our belief that addressing all economic and social needs of persons living with disabilities is fundamental to achieving an environment where people with disabilities are empowered to realise their full potential for the benefit of the society as a whole.”
Madam Sankara cited the UN General Assembly’s adoption of the Convention of the Rights of the Persons with Disability as a milestone. “This historic Convention,” she went on, “asserts the right to education, health, employment, adequate living condition, freedom of movement and equal recognition before the law for persons with disabilities”.
She went on: “People with disabilities will now have an opportunity to influence policy and legislation leading to a fair treatment on equal basis with others”.
Fanta Bai-Secka, the Director of Social Welfare, affirmed that the overall aim of the consultation meeting was to ensure that existing approaches focus on disability in development initiatives.
She indicated that the promotion of the participation of persons with disabilities in social, political, cultural and economic spheres with equal opportunities, is of great importance.
The persons with disabilities, she noted enjoy a special protection in the 1997 constitution; hence the need to continue to advocate social inclusion for all.
The president of The Gambia Federation for the Disabled, Isatou Sanyang, expressed optimism that the Disability Bill, when enacted, would provide the disabled community a sense of dignity, thereby creating equal opportunities for all persons with disabilities.
She hailed the Ministry of Justice and the UNDP for their collaborative efforts in this crusade.
by Bekai Njie