Tuesday, December 3, 2013
COMMEMORATION OF THE INTERNATIONAL DAY OF PERSONS WITH DISABILITIES
ON COMMEMORATION OF THE INTERNATIONAL DAY OF PERSONS WITH DISABILITIES
Theme:Break barriers, open doors: for an inclusive society for all
The Ministry of Disabilities and Elderly Affairs and Federation of Disability Organisations in Malawi (FEDOMA) in collaboration with FEDOMA affiliates, partners, and various other stakeholders – will be joining the rest of the world in commemorating the International Day of Persons with Disabilities (IDD) which officially falls on 3 December 2012. In Malawi, this event will be commemorated on Saturday, 21 December 2013, at Mzuzu Stadium in Mzuzu City.
The IDD is observed internationally and has been promoted by the United Nations since 1992. The observance of the Day aims at promoting an understanding of disability issues and mobilizing support for the dignity, rights and well-being of persons with disabilities. The theme augurs well with the Government and FEDOMA’s work in promoting awareness and promoting the welfare of persons with disabilities.
The main theme for this year’s IDD is “Break barriers, open doors: for an inclusive society for all”.
The theme has been proposed against the background that the UN General Assembly in the recent years has repeatedly emphasized that the genuine achievement of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and other internationally agreed development goals, requires the inclusion and integration of the rights, and well-being, as well as the perspective of persons with disabilities in development efforts at national, regional and international levels.
This year’s theme also comes amidst the concerns that as we pass the halfway point of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), it is crucial for governments, donors, international agencies and civil society to address disability through the implementation of inclusive development strategies. Inclusive development recognizes all individuals as equal members of society who should be actively engaged in the development process irrespective of disability, age, gender, ethnicity or any other status. This is achieved by designing policies, products, services and creating environments that can be used by all people, including disabled people.
The Government of Malawi and FEDOMA recognize and appreciate the support and commitment by development partners, local and international non-governmental organizations as well as civil society organizations, in addressing the challenges faced by persons with disabilities by making key social sectors accessible in the country. In particular, we acknowledge the support towards this year’s events from the World Vision International (WVI), Christian Blind Mission (CBM), Water Aid, and Norwegian Association of Disabled (NAD). For example, World Vision contributes to this transformation of community by enabling and ensuring inclusion, equity and accessibility in all its supported development programmes.
In Malawi, Persons with Disabilities continue to face a myriad of barriers that impinge on their ability to enjoy various rights and freedoms. Barriers include stigma and discrimination, lack of adequate health care and rehabilitation services; and inaccessible transport, buildings and information and communication technologies. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), disability is less about health and far more about social and economic barriers to inclusion. Poor sanitation, unsafe water, a lack of access to healthcare and malnutrition can all lead to disabling conditions.
This event, however, will also provide an opportunity to engage businesses, organizations, companies and other service providers to go beyond the legal requirements to provide both physical and service accessibility to Persons with Disabilities.
In order to address most of the challenges aforementioned, FEDOMA and other stakeholders in Malawi acknowledges Government’s commitment in putting in place policy and legislative framework for effective disability programming and provision of various disability-friendly services. In particular, we applaud both the enactment of the long-awaited Disability Bill last year and the subsequent gazetting of the same this year. We, however, acknowledge the fact that the operationalization of the law is what is very critical to ensure the inclusion of persons with disabilities so that they begin to fully enjoy many social services that currently remain a luxury.
FEDOMA, including its affiliates, partners and stakeholders wish to urge the Government, private sector and relevant institutions to start implementing the new Disability Act, and ensure that the public is well sensitized about the law. Through operationalization of this Act, we want to see a nation in which all persons with disabilities are able to achieve their full potential and fully participate in all development activities around them.
Fletcher Zenengeya Mussa Chiwaula
Principal Secretary Executive Director
Ministry of Disability and Elderly Affairs Federation of Disability Organisations in Malawi (FEDOMA)
This Press Release has been supported by World Vision