By Mustapha Jallow
Senior Officers from the National Council for Civic Education (NCCE) in collaboration with The Gambia Federation for the Disable (GFD), concluded a week long regional stakeholder sensitisation on Persons with Disabilities (PWDs) Act 2021. Held at the July 22nd square in Banjul, the outreach program was supported by UNICEF on the theme: “role of local authorities in ensuring inclusion of Persons with Disabilities.”
The session brought together persons with physical challenges from various areas within the city, including NCCE staff, youth leaders and representatives of UNICEF.
According to the organisers, the campaign aims to advance the rights of persons with disabilities in the Gambia, particularly by raising awareness among societies on the content and principles of the PWD Act 2021. That 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 invention of proper mechanisms to foster implementation of the Act.
The objective of the Act they said is to protect, promote and uphold the inherent rights of persons with disabilities as guaranteed in the UN Charter, as well as in Section 31 (1) (2) and (3) of the 1997 Constitution of the Gambia. That it will safeguard and protect the rights and freedoms of persons with disabilities, who have been neglected. The Act is said to be an effective instrument to address the diverse needs of persons with disabilities and potentially ensure their full social inclusion and participation in the decision making process of the country.
Principal Magistrate Muhammed Krubally who doubles as Chairperson for GFD, said Gambia has turned into a civilised state since 2021, by ensuring that they have a disability law called Persons with Disabilities Act. He said the purpose of this law is to inform citizens that persons with disabilities have equal fundamental rights and freedom like every other citizen of the Gambia.
“If you are sitting on a wheelchair, or you are blind, you have hard of hearing difficulties, or an amputee, you have equal rights with everybody,’’ he said.
Krubally urged the people to be aware that there is now a law that protects and promotes persons with disabilities, and urge people not to violate the rights of persons with disabilities because the law is here for them (PWDs).
“This is why we are here before anyone will be found guilty or wanting for breaking this law. We have to go round and inform you (citizens), educate you on those existing rights, so that you will take it up from there and inform those who are unable to make it here,’’ he explained.
Yusupha Bojang, the programme manager for NCCE, underscored the importance of the Act, recalling that women were able to get an Act since 2010 and that the Children’s Act was adopted since 2005.
“From 2010 which is the closest, there is a gap before we finally get the Disability Act. Disability is different from other minority groups because anybody can be disabled at any stage in life. And everyone is disabled in one way or the other and it is therefore important that we take the issue of PWDs seriously, to ensure that their rights are fully protected and promoted,” he added.
Bojang further said that the Constitution frowns against discrimination but there is a lot of discrimination on how public facilities are built because most of them are not accessible to PWDs.
Essaha Sowe, youth chairperson for Banjul urged participants to help with PwDs and associate with them to ensure they always feel being part of society and country.
He finally thanked the NCCE for their continuous civic engagement with communities.