Accra, May 15, GNA - Stakeholders have called on government to invest in People With Disability (PWDs) and not to treat them as liabilities.
About five million or three percent of Ghanaians are PWDs.
These concerns were raised at a day’s stakeholder’s refresher seminar on “Access to justice for youth and persons with disability in Ghana,” a project under the auspices of the Youth Bridge Foundation (YBF).
The project is funded by Open Society Initiative for West Africa (OSIWA).
YBF is a Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) that seeks to promote the development of young people to facilitate justice for the youth and disabled.
The project’s first phase, which is at its peak, is to bridge the gap between policy and practice as a developing country.
Mr Edmund Agbeve, a representative of the Curious Minds, also a Civil Society Organisation (CSO), who led the discussion said it was high time they learnt to treat PWDs with care, respect and the love they deserved, to become useful individuals and not a burden.
He explained that PWDs were left out in the decision-making process, among other things, which was not the best and brought about economic constraint on the country because they were not empowered.
Mr Agbeve said that Ghanaians admired the inventions of foreign PWDs but branded the local PWDs as evil when they did same.
He advised Ghanaians, especially, health officials to see PWDs as sexual beings who also had reproductive rights and not embarrass them when they became pregnant and visited the hospital.
They are people who respond to sexuality, among other reproductive issues.
Mr Agbeve stressed that when they were made to feel humiliated, Ghana’s effort to fight sexually transmitted diseases, unsafe abortion, reduce maternal/child mortality would be futile as most of them would not access health facilities.
He therefore reiterated the need for them to be seen as a resource and not a burden.
Mr Thomas Kofi Nyambe, the Eastern Regional Education Assessment Officer, said some visually impaired persons have been trained to do house chores, including cooking, washing, making them useful to their societies.
Mr Nyambe, formerly of the Akropong School of the Blind, tasked the society to help prepare such special people for the future and should not give up on them.
Ms Esther Yayra Attipoe, a lawyer and the Project Manager in giving a background to the Project, said it sought to give social protection to the youth and PWDs as well as direct them as to how to access justice.
She explained that the youth made up of about 74 percent of the total Ghanaian population whilst three percent, representing five million were PWDs were saddled with poverty, unemployment, social exclusive, negative socio-cultural perception and stigmatization.
Due to this, a youth friendly innovative approach was developed based on the Child and Family Policy 2015, a document of the Ministry of Gender, Social and Child Protection to help them understand their fundamental human rights, she added.
Ms Attipoe said a sensitization on the value of their participation in governance was also done for them to better understand and contribute to governance.
Mr Seth Oteng, Executive Director of YBF, said that the gathering was to share achievements and to seek for inputs and service in advancing the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) 16 in Ghana as well as permit young people and disabled to take part in decision making.
Mr Oteng said the SDG 16, which seeks to promote an all inclusive in society was achievable and called on all stakeholders to support in achieving the goal.
Professor Ransford Gyampo, a Political Science Lecturer, University of Ghana, commended YBF for helping to deepen access to justice and promoting all inclusive society, adding that to enrich the project, there was the need to bridge the gap between policy and practice.
He said Ghana had all the policies and laws but did not ensure they were translated to benefit those intended for and called on government to be committed to implementing them.
Professor Gyampo said there was also the need to promote the content and make them accessible to the beneficiaries and praised YBF for translating the Child and Family Policy into drama series, called “Puzzle,” that talks about the challenges people with disability face daily.
The policy had also been made disability friendly by translating it into braille and audio, all in the name of promoting access to justice, he added.
He appealed to the major partners- OSIWA, goal developers of SDGs to continue to assist and ensure the accessibility to development and justice in various communities in achieving goal 16 were achieved.
It brought together CSOs, young people with disability, representatives from the Social Welfare and many others.