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Voice Ghana holds forum on disability manifesto

Accra, Dec. 12, GNA - Mr Francis Asong, Executive Director, Voice Ghana, says the group’s advocacy on a disability manifesto, aims at serving as a working document for political parties and policy makers in their future planning for Persons With Disabilities (PWDs).

According to the National Disability Rights, Advocacy and Capacity Building Organisation, the manifesto would also serve as a reference document to Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies (MMDAs) in their strategic plans and policy frameworks.

Mr Asong made these remarks in an interview with the Ghana News Agency (GNA) in Accra, on the sideline of a national stakeholder’s forum on the development of a disability manifesto; a project funded by the Open Society Initiative for West Africa (OSIWA).

The forum registered over 40 participants representing disability experts, social workers, academia and government functionaries.

Participants held group discussions and shared experience among themselves.

In Ghana, majority of PWDs are largely excluded from the development processes and so have extremely limited opportunities to engage in public consultations and decision- making.

Isolation and confinement based on traditions; superstitions including prejudices and negative beliefs continue to affect PWDs, especially those at the grassroots.

As a result, people with disabilities continue to face severe social stigma, creating a culture of entrenched discrimination emerging from physical and social barriers; majority of them are also ostracized from the larger society.

These problems bring widespread exclusion and marginalization of persons with disabilities from the development processes, public consultations, civic engagement and democratic governance processes.

Discrimination against PWDs is one of the major problems undermining the progress of democratic practice, unfortunately duty bearers including policy makers and traditional authorities are rather giving low attention to issues concerning PWDs.

Mr Asong told the GNA that some work has been done on a different angle by the Ghana Federation of Disability Organisation and National Council of Persons With Disabilities; he noted that they would consult these organisations to harness these documents together, to make it more authentic.

He said there would also be a number of consultations at regional and district levels with organisations, PWDs and other stakeholders, adding that “so at the end everyone will be willing to identify with the final product”.

The Executive Director said the next line of action would be the validation period which will gather all civil society organisations and the disability fraternity especially, to validate the document; afterwards, it would be published and officially launched.

Mr Asong said after the launch there would be an awareness creation effort to sensitise the public that there is a document that puts all development indicators together for easy reference for whoever wants to engage in development initiatives of PWDs.

He said the current Disability Act was being reviewed to conform with the United Nations Convention on the Rights of PWDs, whereas there are already existing policies and legislative frameworks.

He said the manifesto would compliment all these policies and frameworks.

Mr Asong, who commended OSIWA for its effort, said this was not the only project they are implementing, as it formed part of a major project they implementing for the past one and half years, which would end by June next year.

He said the intention was to see how best they could increase active participation and inclusion of PWDs in local governance and decision making processes; and this project was currently taking place in 10 districts in the Eastern Region.

The Executive Director said  it was also taking place in 10 districts in the Northern Region as they implemented a similar one in the Volta Region; adding that “ today’s event is part of the entire two year project that we are implementing with OSIWA and hope to continue several other engagements with them”


Source: Ghana News Agency

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