With Madi S. Njie
Welcome to another Edition of the Disability Column, the column that informs of the activities and concerns of Persons With Disability (PWD). In this Edition of the Column, we highlight the GFD’s celebration of World Disability Day (WDD), after it was postponed due to the ‘3 Years Jotna’ protest.
Gambia Federation of the Disable (GFD) which is the umbrella federation of PWDs commemorated WDD on January 10th 2020 at the Youth Monument at West Field.
GFD, the voice of PWDs in The Gambia, advocates for respect, promotion and protection of their inherent dignity, fundamental rights and freedoms.
World Disability Day is observed and celebrated every 3rd December each year, but this time around they could not celebrate the day due to the threats of ‘Operation Three Years Jotna’ protests and inadequate funds.
However the GFD managed to mobilize some funds to successfully commemorate the Day due to its importance on PWDs. PWDs from fifteen registered Disable People’s Organisations (DPOs) under the federation including volunteers, the Media, Social Welfare staff and partners with Police escort, graced the occasion.
The gathering which converged at Ice-Man along the Banjul/Serrekunda Highway, marched to the West Field monument where speeches were delivered.
Magistrate Muhammed Krubally, GFD Chairperson addressed the ceremony. He said the International Day of PWDs was set aside by the United Nations General Assembly to be commemorated to enable PWDs express themselves, showcase their talents and discuss the issues and challenges that affect them.
He lamented that lack of employment and scholarships opportunities for PWDs as challenges which confronts PWDs and urged the Ministry of High Education to reserve scholarship packages for PWDS to acquire the needed education. Krubally urged the Ministry not to equate PWDS on the same standard as others.
The GFD Chairperson also stated that Government should introduce Social Security Insurance for PWDs to access health and health services; that the aforesaid rights are guaranteed by Section 31, sub-section 1 of the 1997 Constitution of the Republic of The Gambia.
He took the opportunity to call on Gambian President Adama Barrow and his administration to consider the long pending Disability Bill to be placed before the National Assembly for enactment; that apart from the National Constitution, the Disability Bill is the only guaranteed legislation PWDs can rely on in the event their rights are violated or infringed upon.
Jankoba Jabbi, the Director of the Social Welfare Department said the aforesaid body and the Ministry for Women, Children and Social Welfare is committed to support PWDs. Jabbi said his line Ministry is working harder by pushing for the enactment of the Disability Bill. He urged PWDS to consult the Department and communicate their problems.
Bintou Jaiteh, Legal and Policy Assistant of the Department in her remarks re-affirmed Article 19’s support for PWDs. She called on the Justice Minister to expedite the presentation of the Bill before the National Assembly for enactment. Jaiteh recollected that the Justice Minister made this pledge before the Universal Period Review at Geneva in Switzerland.
Other people who made presentations include Sainey Camara and Gabu Jarju. Both are disability focal persons at the Social Welfare Department.