By Amadou Jadama
The Minister of Gender, Children and Social Welfare has revealed that the government aims to conduct a national disability survey as part of plans to ensure people living with disabilities enjoy their full rights and liberties.
Fatou Kinteh added that the government of President Adama Barrow pays a great attention to persons with disabilities and will continue to remain committed in promoting their rights.
She made these observations yesterday during the opening of the National Human Rights Commission forum on disabilities held at the Sir Dawda Jawara Conference Centre.
In a statement delivered on her behalf by Saikou K Sanyang, the permanent secretary, Madam Kinteh said in partnership with the National Disability Advisory Council, the ministry has conducted series of sensitizations across the country on the rights of persons with disabilities and there are plans to conduct a national survey on the prevalence of disability in the country.
According to her, the last survey on disability in the country was conducted in 1998.
“In terms of budgetary allocation, the ministry has also created budget lines for the National Disability Advisory Council. Subvention for the Gambia Federation of the Disabled and family strengthening program, which also targets PWDs pending approval from Ministry of Finance and Economic Affairs for next year 2024 and beyond,” she said.
She however said despite these achievements, the ministry is aware of numerous challenges persons with disabilities continue to face in the country, hindering their ability to realise their full potentials. “These includes discrimination of all sorts, violations of rights, and limited inclusions among other things. These challenges cannot be addressed in silos but requires whole of government and society to overcome them. As a government, we have set our sight high with a clear aim to empower and promote the social, economic and political inclusion of all persons including persons with disabilities,” she vowed.
She added: “The government of the Gambia through my ministry remains committed to promote the rights, participation, empowerment and inclusion of persons with disabilities in all sectors of development. This is because there cannot be meaningful development without their inclusion.”
She said The Gambia ratified the convention on the rights of persons with disabilities and most recently in July 2021 enacted the Persons with Disabilities Act as well as developed a policy to enhance effective and full implementation of the Act.
She added that the AU Protocol on the rights of persons with disabilities and the older persons is also at cabinet level for approval.
She said the ministry has renovated the dilapidated disability and rehabilitation unit in Banjul and equipped with modern facilities and staff at the unit have also received trainings locally and internationally through their partners.
Speaking earlier, Seraphine Wakana, UN Resident Coordinator, said the Gambia’s National Development Plan has a pillar dedicated to empowerment, social inclusion and leaving no one behind and persons with disabilities are one of the groups cited under the pillar.
“Despite this, we are aware that persons with disabilities continue to face stigma and discrimination and exclusion resulting in non- enjoyment of their rights with adverse effects on their overall wellbeing and potential. The UN is cognizant of the challenges faced by persons with disabilities,” she said.
Ms Wakana applauded the National Human Rights Commission for taking the necessary steps to create awareness, advocate for and promoting the rights and persons with disabilities.