Federation urges Ghana to ratify African Disability Protocol
The Ghana Federation of Disability (GFD) Organisations has appealed to President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo and his government to sign and ratify the African Disability Protocol to promote all inclusivity and equity.
The protocol, when ratified by 15 AU-Member States, would direct Member-States to operationalise it with a legal framework by enacting laws and policies to promote disability rights in their respective countries.
Mrs Mawunyo Yakor-Dagbah, President of the GFD, made the appeal when the Federation, development partners and other stakeholders joined the 2022 Global Disability Summit virtually in Accra.
The two-day summit, which began on Wednesday, February 16, was co-hosted by Ghana, represented by President Akufo-Addo, the Prime Minister of Norway, Mr Jonas Gahr Støre and the International Disability Alliance, to build on progress made at the first summit held in London in 2018.
The virtual summit was joined by more than 7,000 people from across the world.
Mrs Yakor-Dagbar said Persons with Disability (PWDs) craved justice, recognition in terms of employment, recognition of sign language as a major language, and protection of persons with albinism as considered by the Protocol.
The Protocol would also highlight the linguistic identity of deaf persons as a major right and demand that those living in rural areas with disability not be left behind.
Mrs Gertrude Oforiwaa Fefoame, President of the International Council for Education of People with Visual Impairment in Africa, said PWDs, badly needed the protocol across the continent to enjoy same and equal rights as those without disabilities.
She condemned the harmful practices meted out to PWDs based on cultural values and traditional myths that perceived disability as a curse and called for totally eradication of such practices.
Mrs Ingrid Mollestad, the Norwegian Ambassador to Ghana, said if Ghana and the continent at large wanted to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals, then the most important way to aim success was to adopt the rights-based and all inclusive protocol.
She applauded the AU-member States who had submitted their commitments towards the Disability Protocol, saying they were a mobilized effort for enhanced inclusion.
Without the voices of PWDs, Ghana would not be able to achieve her goals and desired progress, she added.
For Mr Charles Abani, the UN Resident Coordinator, Ghana, PWDs should be allowed to play key roles in decision making.
He said it was only by that and giving them equal protection, recognition and representation that, society could know much of their worth.
Madam Grace Antwi-Atsu, a Global Advocacy Advisor, West Africa, Sightsavers, an international charity working to prevent avoidable blindness and advocates equality for PWDs, said one of the main challenges confronting the ratification of the protocol was the low awareness of the protocol among those in government and the protection it sought to give.
As the Protocol could come into force only when 15 AU-member States ratified it, she beseeched member States to join forces to make it possible to protect lives and interests that mattered.