Annually, December 3rd is set aside by the United Nations as the International Day for People with Disabilities. The celebration seeks to bring to the fore the plight of persons with disabilities and what they are capable of achieving within a national development framework when given the opportunity with the right environment.
According to World Health Organisation statistics, one in every seven persons has disabilities across the globe.The theme for this year’s celebration was ‘building towards a disability-inclusive, accessible and sustainable post covid-19 world’.
Ms. Yvonne Masarakufa, a representative of Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OCHRC), said persons with disabilities encounter many disadvantages in societies and are often subjected to stigma and discrimination.
She explained that persons with disabilities are frequently unemployed and are largely excluded in civil and political processes.
“Women and girls with disabilities are the most underrepresented in the disable community and face additional challenges especially during the covid-19 pandemic. Persons with disabilities are an important sector of our population and when they are included and empowered to participate in development processes, the entire community benefits as their involvement creates opportunities for everyone with or without disabilities”.
Ms. Masarakufa affirmed that including persons with disabilities and their communities is important to advance development agenda and ensure no one is left behind.
For his part, Seraphine Wakana, United Nations resident coordinator acknowledged that UN in The Gambia strives in its efforts to build better, safeguard the participation and the inclusion of persons with disabilities throughout The Gambia to ensure that no one is left behind.
“The United Nations stands firm in upholding human rights principles on equality and non discrimination”, she said.
She disclosed that it is central to the promise of the 2030 agenda for sustainable development to leave no one behind.
The UN in The Gambia, she added, has collaborated with the Ministry of Health and other community organizations to ensure holistic reintegration of Gambian returnees including those with mental health conditions.
Muhammed Krubally, chairperson of The Gambia Federation of the Disabled expressed hope that government of The Gambia respects the convention of persons with disabilities, saying health care should be accessible to all persons with disabilities.
He therefore appealed to government and partners to ensure that PwDs are included in all developmental agendas.