Disability rights organisations in Ghana have called on policymakers to implement employment equity policies for transformative disability inclusion.
The organisations and partners, in extensive proposals at the conclusion of the second disability inclusion summit in Accra, also urged the government and parliament to expedite the passage of the country’s Persons with Disabilities Bill, 2022, to ensure that no person with disabilities falls behind in national development.
They said the bill would have an impact on the lives of people with disabilities (PWDs) and asked for it to be reenacted as soon as possible to comply with the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and the African Disability Protocol.
Ms. Esther Akua Gyamfi, Executive Secretary of the National Council on Persons with Disabilities, spoke to the Ghana News Agency about the key outcomes of the second disability inclusion summit, on the theme: “Achieving a Sustainable Dignified Life for Persons with Disabilities: Stakeholder Roles and Contributions.”
The Council, the Ghana Federation of Disability Organisations, and development partners helped organise the 2023 summit, which provided a platform for policy implementers to share progress toward Ghana’s commitments to the general well-being of PWDs.
It was also informed and updated PWDs and stakeholders on the progress made to sustain dignified lives for PWDs.
The summit saw the launch of the National Inclusive Disaster Risk Management Guidelines and the DVLA Policy for Training and Testing Drivers with Disabilities to guide deliberate measures for disability inclusion in humanitarian and climate change responses; as well as the right to assisted driving.
Ms. Gyamfi described this as a major breakthrough in the advocacy for disability inclusion, noting that it fulfilled Ghana’s commitments under the 2018 and 2022 Global Disability Summits.
She added that the 2nd disability inclusion summit advanced Ghana’s signing and ratification of the African Disability Protocol, which disability rights groups say should become a reality in order to substantiate its inclusion in Ghana’s Persons with Disability Bill, 2022.
Another significant result was the Ghana Digital Acceleration Project for Persons with Disabilities, which she stated would improve ICT and technological advancement for people with disabilities in employment and independent living.
“There’s the urgent attention to conducive policy environment for the local production of assistive devices and technologies to enhance independent living and contributions to GDP by persons with disabilities,” she added, referring to the key outcome of the summit.
The summit concluded that the experiences of unemployed graduates, particularly youth with disabilities, demand the adoption of the Employment Equity Policy and the Revised Guidelines for the Management and Disbursement of the Common Fund for Persons with Disabilities.
They further urged swift implementation of measures for the development of the Disability Inclusion Directory, which will serve as a one-stop information sharing platform for players in the disability inclusion movement [guided by the Medium-Term National Development Policy Framework (2022-2025).
The United Nations Resident Coordinator, Mr. Charles Abani, urged both the government and parliament to expedite the reenactment of the PWD bill to bring it into compliance with international standards.
“We urge the government and parliament to expedite the re-enactment of the Persons with Disabilities Bill and its L.I. as well as the Technical Working Committee reviews to ensure the bill is consistent with the UNCRPD and the African Disability Protocol,” he said.
Mr. Kakra Ankobiah, speaking on behalf of the Ghana National Association of the Deaf, applauded NCPD and expressed excitement about the new DVLA policy for Training and Testing Drivers with Disabilities.
“This policy is a significant step toward ensuring that persons with disabilities are not left behind in exercising their rights and providing them with the freedom to drive to work, doctor’s appointments, or the grocery store, among other things,” he said.
Mr. Abdul Wahab, speaking on behalf of the Ghana Federation of Disability Organization, congratulated the NCPD and stakeholders on developing a strategy to support in the promotion of disability inclusion advocacy and agenda in Ghana.
The NCPD is Ghana’s state agency for disability issues and people with disabilities’ systemic inclusion, with the primary mandate of proposing and developing policies and strategies to enable people with disabilities to fully participate in the national development process.