NCCE ends stakeholder forum on advancing rights of PWDs

NCCE ends stakeholder forum on advancing rights of PWDs

By Cherno Omar Bobb

The National Council for Civic Education (NCCE) in collaboration with the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) and The Gambia Federation for the Disabled (GFD) recently ended a nationwide stakeholder learning forum on advancing the rights of persons with disabilities in The Gambia.

The forum funded by UNICEF under the UNPRPD, was held on theme: Empowering Diversity:  A collective journey to creating inclusive space for disability rights.

The initiative, aimed at promoting the full realisation of rights and inclusivity for persons with disabilities by actively engaging relevant stakeholders, also seeks to raise awareness about the specific obligations and responsibilities in mainstreaming disabilities across all sectors and services.

However, the primary objectives of the activity are to establish platforms for key stakeholders in disability rights, particularly organisations of Persons With Disabilities and decision-makers to convene and address issues affecting PWDs.

The focus was on identifying timely solutions to challenges such as the participation of PWDs, with a particular emphasis on children, women, and those residing in rural communities.

Meanwhile, the initiative targets six (6) Learning Forum in six Administrative Regions namely; Upper River, Central River, Lower River, North Bank and West Coast Regions. Kanifing Municipal and Banjul City Councils are also part of the programme.

Each session targeted about 300 participants, which including PWDs, security personnel, members of the Gambia Transport Union, youth, health workers, teachers, women, CSOs, local authorities and other relevant regional stakeholders.

At the closing ceremony, Yusupha Bojang, Chief Civic Education officer for the National Council for Civic Education (NCCE), said national development includes the involvement, inclusion and participation of every citizen for the advancement of the country, noting that national development cannot happen if others are left behind.

He observed that those with disabilities are not at par with others in terms of development and participation in national endeavours, recalling that the Disability Act was passed in 2021 and a lot of work has been done.

However, he said, there are still gaps, further highlighting that their wish is to ensure there is a just and inclusive society where everybody have the opportunity to contribute their quota to the development of the country.

To this end, he thanked their partners for the collaboration.

Matilda Mendy, deputy executive secretary at the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) said that it is important that PWDs are in the fight to advocate for their own rights as well as hold government accountable when their rights are violated.

She observed that one of the most important rights they advocate for and protect at NHRC is the rights of PWDs.

She thus called for the need to empower PWDs to not only understand their rights, but to be able to hold government accountable as well.

“Children with disabilities should not be hidden anymore but rather they should be given the necessary means to excel in society.” she said.

She indicted that there are a lot of PWDs globally who invented great things.  “There is no limitation to what you can achieve when you are empowered the right way,” she told participants.

Muhammed Krubally, chairman of the Gambia Federation for the Disabled (GFD), underscored the importance of the theme for the forum, saying it should be the collective responsibility of everyone to create inclusive spaces for Persons With Disabilities.

He thus called on participants to make best use of the knowledge gained during the forum as well as share with others to ensure the fundamental rights of PWDs are actualised, respected, promoted and protected.  

Ansumana Ceesay, senior programme officer at NCCE, said there is a need for regular convergence of stakeholders, particularly PWDs, to discuss issues affecting them and to identify timely solutions to address them.

He informed that inclusion is not just a goal to be achieved, but a fundamental human right that demands our unwavering dedication and collective action.

He revealed that through dialogue, collaboration and tireless advocacy, they have the power to transform perceptions, dismantle barriers, and pave the way for a more equitable and accessible future for all.

“Together, let us ignite the flame of change and ensure that the voices and aspirations of Persons with Disabilities are not only heard but valued and embraced.” he said.


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