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Disability Community sidelined as Ghana prepares to host Global Disability Summit

As Ghana gets ready to co-host the Global Disability Summit with Norway in February 2022, the disability community in the country has expressed disappointment at the low level of commitment and cooperation from the Central government towards the event.

The Summit is the world’s biggest gathering of people with disabilities, governments, international agencies, charities and business leaders. It offers a vital opportunity for governments and organizations everywhere to implement the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD), among others.

Surprisingly however, the disability community in Ghana says they have not been officially notified of the summit by the government, an indication that they are not informed of the level of preparations so far, if any, despite the fact that the summit is only about two months away.  

At a press conference on Monday December 6, to mark this year’s International Day of Persons with Disabilities (IDD), the National President of the Ghana Federation of Disability Organizations (GFD), Mawunyo Yakor-Dagbah, expressed concern about the fact that government would be preparing towards such an august summit without the input of key stakeholders such as the GFD and its allies.

“To be frank with you, we got to know that Ghana is a co-host of this summit through the international community, and since then we have been waiting for the government to consult us, but that has not happen yet,” she stated.

They used the occasion to launch a new campaign and petition calling on the government to make lasting commitments at the Global Disability Summit to address the global needs of people with disabilities and ensure they are integrated into policies and laws. The ‘Equal World’ campaign is run by Sightsavers, along with the GFD.

As they countdown to the Global Disability Summit, they are appealing to the government of Ghana to show leadership as co-host and to take advantage of the opportunity by making strong commitments backed by political will and relevant budgets. Specifically, they are calling on the government of Ghana to take immediate steps to meet the numerous unfulfilled commitments made during the 2018 summit.

The commitments include “Ensuring the speedy passing of the amendments to Ghana’s Persons with Disability Act (ACT 715); Improve accessibility by ensuring the full implementation of the Ghana Accessibility Standards to the Built Environment; and Put the needed structures in place for the implementation of meaningful inclusive education.”

They are further calling on the government to review and adopt the Employment Equity Bill and take practical steps to ensure meaningful employment of persons with disabilities.

As a co-host of the 2022 summit, they are also calling on the government of Ghana to demonstrate leadership on the continent by ratifying the African Disability Protocol and to call on other member states of the African Union to do same.

“The Global Disability Summit is a huge opportunity for the government of Ghana to address the inequality and promote disability rights. Many people with disabilities around the world face the daily denial of their human rights. The COVID-19 pandemic has increased this inequality, particularly for women and girls with disabilities,” Yakor-Dagbah stated.

He called on the government to attend the summit with high level representation and to make ambitious, properly financed commitments that will result in real change. “To achieve this, the presidency and ministers must engage with people with disabilities and representative organizations ahead and during the summit”.

The first Global Disability Summit in 2018 was a pivotal moment for disability rights globally, and a demonstration of political leadership, bringing attention to disability on the global stage.

Despite this progress, many of its commitments still need to be met and financed to ensure that the rights of people with disabilities, especially from marginalized groups, are protected and enforced worldwide.

Sightsavers’ Global Advocacy Advisor for Social Inclusion and a member of the United Nations Committee of Experts to the UNCRPD, Getrude Oforiwa Fefoame remarked that “Next year’s summit is an opportunity for the government of Ghana to make their actions speak louder than their words and commit to securing disability rights. That is what our Equal World Campaign is calling for”.

The Global Disability Summit is scheduled for February 15-17, 2022 and would be hosted by the government of Norway and Ghana, and the International Disability Alliance.

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Disability Community Ghana Global Disability Summit

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