Even before Ghana goes to the polls to elect Assembly Members for the various District Assemblies in the Country, an appeal has been made to the government to at least appoint one Person with Disability(PWDs) to each of the 254 District Assemblies in the country.
The proponent, Ghana Society of the Physically Disabled (GSPD) observed that PWDs remain politically marginalized in the majority of the current district assemblies and that has resulted generally in the low participation of PWDs in Ghana’s local government system.
“We are therefore calling on government to at least reduce the impact of this marginalized by appointing at least one person with disability as an Assembly member in each district of Ghana.”
Addressing Journalist in Accra on Wednesday on the State of Political Participation of Persons with Disability at the Local Level, President of GSPD, Rev. John Mefful noted that even though Ghana’s Local Government Act 846 does not discriminate against any social group, PWDs continue to suffer marginalization.
According to Rev. Mefful, a study conducted by the GSPD in October this year found that the recently passed assembly members, out of a total of more than 12,000 assembly members, only 120 of them were persons with disability, of which 24 were elected and 94 appointed. That, he said, amounts to one percent of who were Assembly members.
He bemoaned that “this is woefully unacceptable where Ghana is working towards inclusive society per the Sustainable Development Goals.”
He also explained that the GSPD study as a result of marginalization, stigmatization and discrimination, many PWDs who contested elections failed to win. “For that matter, we are appealing to voters to vote based on competence and not on the ground of person’s disability”
He noted that many PWDs who are intellectually capable to excellently perform their duty as assembly members are scared to come out to contest and to offer themselves for appointment because of inaccessible nature of the almost all the physical structures at the district assemblies in Ghana.
Rev. Mefful also used the platform to call on the media to champion the case of PWDs in educating the public to assist and change the negative perception on PWDs.
He added, “You should focus more on competencies, great achievement by PWDs, those who have broken through all odds to reach high academic ladder.”
He indicated that it is imperative for government and other institutions to work together to provide guidance and concrete recommendations on what steps Parliament, Political Parties and Civil Society Organization should undertake to ensure that democratic institutions and decision making processes are more inclusive and accessible for persons with various types of disabilities.