Madam Otiko Afisa Djaba, Minister for Gender, Children and Social Protection, has stated that government is committed to removing the legal barriers to protect and include Persons with Disabilities (PwDs) in Ghana.
She said although legal and policy frameworks played vital roles in ensuring the protection of persons with disability, interactions with the Federation of Disability Organisations had revealed that their members were facing several challenges in these areas.
Speaking at the first National Dialogue with Persons with Disabilities, organised by the Ministry in Accra, Madam Otiko Djaba said the Government would amend the Persons with Disabilities Act (Act 715), to bring it in line with the UN Convention on Disabilities.
Government, she stated, would also ensure the passage of the required Legislative Instrument to Act 715 oprationalise it, in addition to that of the Mental Health Act, (Act 846), which was passed, in 2012.
The Minister treated her guests to lunch with entertainment and shared chocolates to them as valentine gifts.
Some of the visibly excited guests severally hugged her, while others took selfies with her.
Madam Otiko Djaba stressed the importance of investing in the creation of an enabling environment for PwDs to realise their full potentials towards contributing to the development of the nation.
“I believe that every individual deserves a chance to discover his or her potential, to receive the necessary support to develop that potential and ultimately use this potential to support the development of our dear nation, Ghana,” she stated.
Madam Otiko Djaba also said the Government would empower the necessary institutions, including the National Council on Persons with Disability (NCPD), to ensure the proper enforcement of laws and interventions aimed at promoting and protecting the rights of PwDs.
“The Government will also implement the three per cent increase in the District Assemblies Common Fund allocations to persons with disability, which was announced in 2012 but remained unimplemented,” she assured.
“The amount will be disbursed through decentralised district and regional office of the NCPD.”
She said Government would also address issues of access to education and employment raised by the leadership of the Federation of Persons with Disabilities.
In line with this, she said, the Ministry would hold a career fair in March to showcase employment and training opportunities for PwDs as well as to solicit support from corporate institutions for them.
“…we will, therefore, work towards the implementation of equal employment opportunities and advocate the appointment of PwDs into public office”.
Ms Farida Bedwei, Co-Founder of Logiciel Ghana Limited, who chaired the occasion, bemoaned the relegation of issues affecting PwDs to the background, saying they were always considered as an afterthought.
She urged the Government to make the needs of PwDs part of its main agenda.
Ms. Bedwei, who lives with Cerebral Palsy, a neurological disorder that affects body movement and muscle coordination, also entreated active people to ensure that government was in a state to cater for them if they happen to be disabled at any point.
Mr Alexander Williams, a member of the National Communication Committee for the Ghana Federation of Disability Organisation, stressed the need for a legislative instrument to the relevant laws to be implemented.
Speaking on employment challenges of PwDs, he also called on the Minister to make the collection of data on both unemployed and employed people with disabilities to help come up with solutions to the problem.
He also called for the institution of incentive packages for both employers of persons with disabilities and PwDs who would go into self-employment.