Friday, January 22, 2021

People With Disabilities say 1999 legislation leaves them exposed

People with Disabilities (PWD) are lobbying for a review of the 1999 piece of legislation to clarify the framework under which the state, civil society and private sector must operate in order to ensure a dignified life for persons with disabilities.

The 1999 policy has been criticized as having loopholes, which include lack of an implementation strategy, failing to clearly defined issues that pertain to equality in land distribution, safety and protection, issues of women with disabilities, protection of children and, in addition, respect for privacy and the right to make choices, accessibility in mobility and inclusion in mainstream society.

“We want a policy that outlines the direction that interventions for persons with disability must take,” said Shirley Keoagile, the Publicity Secretary at the Botswana Association for the Deaf.

Keoagile said mindset change is needed in the way people with disabilities are treated as it creates barriers instead of removing them.

“Even if we have the coordinator of PWD at the Office of the President, there are still more barriers,” she said. “We acknowledge some government efforts to address the plight of PWDs. However, such efforts are fruitless without legislation that supports the cause,” she said.

Keoagile said it is time Government and CSOs need to introspect and see if they are doing enough for PWDs.

“We are excluded from some of the programmes, budget and at times the country even CSOs do not have a budget for us,” she said.

Keoagile said PWDs have not benefited from HIV/AIDS programmes, inclusion in leadership and decision-making funding programmes, SMMEs, amongst other things.

She accentuated the need for disability organizations that are coordinated by 100 percent PWDs to be given an equal share of resources.

The absence of an all encompassing piece of legislation has posed serious challenges.

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