The African Youth with Disabilities Network (AYWDN)-Sierra Leone has demanded that the Constitutional Review Process considers allocating a representative quota in Parliament and other key national institutions for persons with disability.
This and other demands were raised and discussed on last Friday during a partnership meeting held with journalists at the organisation’s offices in Freetown.
The African Youth with Disabilities Network was formed in 2011 to unite Africa’s diverse youth disability groups, their families, friends and supporters with the principal vision of ensuring an inclusive and barrier-free society where youth with disabilities can exercise their rights and participate in all spheres of life.
The AYWDN-SL Country Representative, Seray Alpha Bangura stated that unless there is appropriate representation of persons with disability in parliament and other key national institutions, issues affecting them cannot be well addressed in the realm policies and programs of government and other organisations in the country.
Bangura explained that disability issues should be treated as an aspect of development and human rights instead of the charitable form which considers persons with disability to be inferior, useless, dependant and a burden on society.
He called on persons with disability and their families to strive to reclaim their place as persons with rights and responsibilities so that they are recognised and respected in the societies they live.
He expressed concern that the local media has not been adequately portraying issues affecting disability in the context that will engender the required changes in society in line with international best practice. He said disability is not inability, noting that disability is considered by many as inability because of the way society around them relate to those disabilities. “Disability is normally caused as a result of the environment that the individual finds himself,” he stated.
The AYWDN Country Representative emphasized that the proposed constitution should guarantee the full rights of its citizens without discrimination such that it ensures equal rights to access to education, employment, human rights and governance and sexual education and health services.
By Keifa M. Jaward
Monday June 30, 2014