Dec 04, 2021 News
…as President pledges empowerment for PWD
Kaieteur News – On the occasion of International Day for Persons with Disabilities yesterday, the Guyana Council of Organizations for Persons with Disabilities (GCOPD) appealed for the Government to put an end to its ‘lip service’ and implement concrete plans for the vulnerable group.
In a public statement, the advocacy group for persons with disabilities (PWD) said, “The key stakeholders including policy makers need to stop providing lip service to the community of PWDs and implement structural changes that will be sustainable and positively impact the lives of PWDs”.
The GCOPD complained that, for too long, PWDs have been forced to live on the ‘fringes of society’, depending on the benevolence of others for their survival. “This dependency on charity is as a direct result of the lack of equal opportunities to live productive independent lives. It is a well-known fact that the majority of PWDs are unemployed and live in poverty. We need to change this status quo. We, as a society need to create an enabling environment for PWDs,” the group asserted.
In addition to this, the advocacy group noted that PWDs must be included in all levels of decision-making, bearing in mind that such decisions will impact their lives.
The group further made it clear that PWDs are more than capable of making decisions, and possess the necessary skills and knowledge to guide the process of creating a more inclusive Guyana for all PWDs.
In this regard, the GCOPD said that it is the group’s hope to have more opportunities for equal employment in both the private and public sector, an opportunity for a meaningful education, access to public buildings without any barriers, access to sports and recreational facilities and equal access to all services without discrimination.
Moreover, the advocacy group said it must be given the opportunity to meaningfully participate in decision-making and have equal access to information in accessible formats, along with access to necessary resources to live independent, productive lives.
“As we observe International Day for Persons with Disabilities (IDPD) 2021 under the theme “Leadership and participation of persons with disabilities toward an inclusive, accessible and sustainable post-COVID-19 world”, the Guyana Council of Organisations for Persons with Disabilities (GCOPD) takes this opportunity to call on all stakeholders to respect and fulfill the rights of Persons With Disabilities,” the group said.
Furthermore, it called on “all Guyana” to ensure that the rights of PWDs are respected and promoted. “Please remember, disability affects all of us at some point of our lives. No one is invincible. A disability can be acquired in an instant. Stop pretending that PWDs are a different breed of people. PWDs are human just like every other member of society, with the same basic human rights. Guyana we need to do better. We need to create meaningful change in the lives of PWDs,” the group insisted.
Meanwhile, Head of State, President Irfaan Ali in his message on International Day for Persons with Disabilities only said that his Government is committed to creating the space for PWDs to be given a voice.
“As I have alluded to before, my Government is committed to establishing an inclusive democracy that will give voice to and involve constructive engagement with the disabled community. We are prepared to work with our most vulnerable to guarantee a greater role for them in decision-making, to generate their own pathways to personal development and to tap into their undervalued potential,” the President assured.
He added that the incumbent administration will seek sustainable solutions to the plight of the disabled community. In fact, he noted that emphasis will be placed on empowering them economically and socially, enhancing their skills, supporting them with long-term social protection, and providing rehabilitative care where necessary.
According to him, persons with disabilities are “entitled to the full benefits of citizenship, including free nursery, primary and secondary education and, eventually by 2025, free university education. They are entitled to free treatment at public health institutions, to apply for social protection and government house lots, and to enjoy freedom from discrimination in employment”.
He nevertheless acknowledged that due to the COVID-19 pandemic, PWDs who require homecare and other forms of special care were impacted. As such, greater attention needs to be paid to protecting the vulnerable sections of society during the ongoing recovery, President Ali noted.
This year, International Day for Persons with Disabilities is being held under the theme “Leadership and participation of persons with disabilities toward an inclusive, accessible and sustainable post-COVID-19 world.”
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