The Ghana Federation of Disability Organizations and member representative organizations of Persons with disabilities are working tirelessly to ensure that bills that do not address their issues are not passed into law.
They bemoan their concerns have mostly been relegated to the back burner and thus, time has arrived for them to press for inclusion of their issues into the country’s legislations and policy decisions.
In particular, they mention that the Affirmative Action Bill which is expected to be passed by Parliament in the coming months does not address disability.
They are of the view that affirmative Action law is of extreme necessity to the empowerment of Persons with disability to be active participants in the Ghanaian society.
“Hence if this bill is passed into law without specifically including disability, persons with disabilities will further be marginalized in perpetuation of the historic disadvantage that persons with disabilities are made to endure in the Ghanaian society.”
At a stakeholder consultation workshop held in Accra recently to deliberate on Affirmative action bill ,Ms Esther Akua Gyamfi, a disability rights lawyer emphasised the need for the bill to be inclusive as persons with disability, “are gradually finding their feet to be active participants in society”
Lawyer Gyamfi pointed out “we need an Affirmative Action law that is inclusive because we have only one Ghana and we as subjects have rights; and it is our right to claim these rights.”
The event, which brought together disability right groups, civil society organisations and the media, was meant to present the GFD and its partner’s position on the Affirmative bill, as well as use the opportunity to solicit support and views of stakeholders for a possible review of the bill to make it disability inclusive.
Lawyer Gyamfi explained that PWDs have bigger and more serious stories to tell and that the affirmative action is to break the discrimination that PWDs are faced with, adding that, “denial of affirmative action to PWDs amount to the highest form of discrimination.”
Affirmative action, she said, must deal with all types of discrimination against vulnerable groups and minorities.
She advised all PWDs and Ghanaians in general to make the review of the affirmative Action bill their call because it remains a powerful tool in addressing inequitable representation of persons with disabilities in public office, governance and decision making positions.
The position paper which was presented to participants at the workshop recommended that the bill be reviewed to mainstream disability and to reflect the spirit and letter of the Universal Declaration on Human Rights.
It added that the Affirmative Action Bill be reviewed, “to conform to international best practices addressing the majority of areas relating to the legal creation of equal opportunities.”
It cautioned that the bill “must not be passed into law in its current provision because it is inimical to the sustainanable development goal. The bill must include disability.
By Mohammed Suleman