By Olimatou Coker
The National Council for Civic Education (NCCE) in collaboration with The Gambia Federation for the Disabled (GFD) on Tuesday wrapped up a week-long regional stakeholders’ sensitization on Persons with Disabilities (PWDs) Act 2021 at a day-long forum held at the NaNA conference hall in Kanifing.
The program is supported by UNICEF under the theme: “The role of local authorities in ensuring the inclusion of Persons with Disabilities.”
The session brought together persons with physical challenges in various areas within the city, NCCE staff, youth leaders, and representatives from UNICEF.
The campaign is aimed at advancing the rights of persons with disabilities in The Gambia, particularly to raise awareness on the content and principles of the PWDs Act 2021. It also seeks to advocate for the protection and inclusion of persons with disabilities, especially women and girls in all spheres of life and development through the invention of proper mechanisms to foster the implementation of the Act.
The objective of the ACT is to protect, promote and uphold the inherent rights of persons with disabilities as guaranteed in the UN and in sections 31 (1) (2) and (3) of the 1997 constitution of the Gambia. It will safeguard and protect the rights and freedoms of persons with disabilities that have been long neglected. The act is an effective instrument to address the diverse needs of persons with disabilities and potentially ensure their full social inclusion and participation in decision-making in The Gambia.
Speaking, Muhammed Krubally, Principal Magistrate who also doubles as the Chairman for PFD said the Gambia has turned into a civilized state since 2021, saying by ensuring that they have a disability law.
He added that the purpose of this law is to inform citizens that persons with disabilities have equal fundamental rights and freedom like anybody.
“If you are sitting in a wheelchair – you have equal fundamental rights like anybody. If you are blind, you have equal fundamental rights as anybody. If you are somebody with hard of hearing, you have equal rights with anybody. If you are amputee, you also have equal rights with anybody and all persons with physically challenged,” he said.
“This is why we are here before anyone will be found guilty or wanting for breaking the law – we have to go round and inform you, educate you on those existing rights so that you will take up and inform those who could be able to make it here,” he explained.
Ansumana Ceesay, senior program officer at NCCE, said the Act was passed by the National Assembly in 2021July and it was later signed by the President of the Republic of the Gambia in August 2021.
“Their rights and their dignity has been violated by some of us for the past years that’s why this Act has come in place to protect them so that we realize that we are all citizens,” he said.
“We are very pleased UNICEF support this engagement and we are happy to see that it has been a nationwide popularisation of the Disabilities Act. For us, it is very important that people with disabilities are aware of their rights. So that they can live full dignity, inclusion in the society to be able to participate in decision making and be active and useful citizens in the country,” remarked Ame Esangbedo Roberts, Policy Specialist – UNICEF.
“I would thank NCCE for their continuous civic engagement with communities. This is not the first time they are engaging Gambian citizens to enable them to understand issues happening in their country,” he said.