17 December 2012

Gambia: Disability and Social Inclusion


There is a popular saying that 'disability does not mean inability'. This wise saying is widely accepted and respected across the world. The Gambia is not an exception. The plight of people with disability throughout the globe are to a great extent the same in terms of discrimination at homes, work places and access to other basic social amenities.

As the world disability day is celebrated, the most striking thing that comes to mind is the numerous efforts made towards achieving the objectives of the day, especially those on promoting the rights of the disabled persons in our midst at local, national and international levels.

People with disability are our own brothers and sisters, and the need to see them as part and parcel of us cannot be overemphasised as far as efforts geared towards achieving sustainable economic, human and political developments are concerned. The disabled could have the same potentials like the able; after all, we are all human beings, sharing that unique bondof humanity.

The Gambia has initiated and implemented series of programmes and projects for the promotion and protection of the rights and welfare of all without any discrimination on the grounds of personal status. The government through the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare in collaboration with stakeholders such as the Gambia Federation of the Disabled, has registered series of success stories in this regard.

The status of the disabled in the country has improved in all aspects. This reality could be seen in national policies for promoting theideals of equal employment opportunities, mass awareness creation on the rights of the disabled, the need to support the welfare of the disabled in all aspects of human activities such as education, access to both public and private means of transport system and other basic social amenities.

We therefore join our disabled peoples support orgainsations to call on everyone to expand this space of social inclusion. People should also redouble their efforts towards the promotion of the rights and welfare of the disabled for the socio-economic development of the country. We must be seen to develop a deep sense of love, care and respect for them at all times, regardless of family relations, religious and other perceived connections.

In order to have aneffective and efficient promotion of the rights and welfare of the disabled in our communities, the World must break the traditional circles of discrimination, isolation, dehumanisation and low representation as far as the plight of the disabled are concerned, with all immediacy.

Loving someone is about putting yourself in their shoes and caring about what they feel. Let us therefore empower the disabled and sensitise about the effective and efficient role they can play in national development if given the necessary support and consideration.

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