Gambia Federation Of the Disabled, Partners Hold Consultative Session


Voice Of The Voiceless Column

        With Biran Gaye

Welcome to another edition of the voice of the voiceless, a column resolved in bringing to light the plights of underprivileged and vulnerable workers or groups, as well as trigger discussions with relevant authorities and stakeholders on how best to address concerns and issues affecting the lives and livelihoods of these Gambians.

In this week’s edition, we bring you a just concluded persons with disability consultative sessions.

In the face of increased under representation, participation and standard of living of persons with disability, curtailing their efforts and opportunities, which expose and relegate a huge chunk of the differently abled, to dependency, begging, humiliation, as well as discrimination and stigmatisation, the Gambia Federation Of the Disabled, in partnership with the Special Education Needs Unit under the Ministry of Basic and Secondary Education (MOBSE) and other relevant stakeholders, held a three-day consultative seminar, themed ”Building Back Better: Ensure Full and Effective Inclusion and Participation of Persons with Disability in all Sectors”,  premised to reflect on the plights of persons with disability, design new measures to ensure participation as well as renew the call to usher in a more progressive, inclusive and balance society for all.

The seminar, which was held at the GOVI Conference Hall in Kanifing, brought together participants from different disability associations and other relevant stakeholders.

Funded and supported by UNICEF, the sessions aspire to trigger discussions on the way to synergise and ensure that differently abled persons live a dignified life.

While deliberating on participation and inclusiveness at the convergence, Muhammed Krubally, the chairperson of the Gambia Federation of the Disabled, told participants that persons with disabilities face a worrying trend of continued under representation, less participation, and inclusiveness in all sectors of the Gambian society.

Without meaningful participation and inclusion, Krubally stressed, it will be almost impossible to comprehensively advance lives and livelihoods of persons with disabilities, adding that the Gambia needs to intensify efforts and interventions in a bid to fulfill the aspirations and rights of persons with disability as enshrined in the constitution and relevant international conventions.

”When persons with disability are not employed, it always has huge ramifications, which may lead to street begging, segregation, and dire condition of living,” he pointed out.

”And worse of all, it impacts the lives of their siblings over a long period of time.”

“Accessibility of work places by persons with disability should be ensured, so that they will benefit from working in institutions.  

Krubally, a seasoned attorney and principal magistrate, reiterated that persons with disability remain grossly under represented within the arms of the government, challenging partners and Government to ensure increased participation of persons with disability in running the affairs of the country.

”In all the works of life, we hardly get represented,” he noted.

Speaking in a telephone interview with this reporter after the completion of the sessions, Mr Krubally told Foroyaa that the event sought to provide engagement and consultations among stakeholders and partners, so as to identify continued challenges confronting persons with disability as well as come up possible remedies to address their concerns.

”The Government has an obligation to fulfill the rights of persons with disability and ensure their full inclusion in all public spheres.  It is important to have regular convergence as partners to continue reflect on the concerns and issues affecting the disabled.

”We want the State to put in more efforts in realising full participation of persons with disability in the legislature, judiciary and executive. This is dictated by both domestic and international conventions, to which Gambia is a signatory,” he disclosed.

On the provision of disability friendly facilities, Principal Magistrate Krubally said public and private employers should prioritise a conducive working environment for persons with disability, with a view to improve their accessibility to these opportunities.

”We, as a federation, observes that disability friendly facilities around work places are lacking, and that this exposes the employed disabled to some intermittent sufferings and pain,” he lamented.

“Job providers both public and private should provide elevators, computer screen reading software such as zoom text, dolphin guide, etc.  This, coupled with other friendly facilities, will enhance more inclusion and participation of persons with disability.

”We call on all job providers to give access and provide facilities that aid persons with disability.”

Dilating further, Krubally defiantly calls on Government, partners and stakeholders to mobilise collective efforts and interventions so that persons with disability will enjoy full participation and inclusion as provided by the constitution and other conventions.

”We should not relent in this just cause, and that it is crucial for everyone to be on board, in order to ensure that we all enjoy our rights,” he passionately appeals to Gambians.