Government must do more to promote rights of persons with disabilities – Rights Advocate

Human rights advocate and media personality, Ms. Josephine Oppong-Yeboah has stressed the need for the government to pay more attention to the rights of persons with disabilities in the country.

She says many persons with disabilities are oftentimes discriminated against, a situation she explains undermines the fundamental human rights of such persons.

Ms. Oppong-Yeboah was speaking in relation to the theme of this year’s conference on the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) which comes to an end on June 15, 2023.

The 16th session of the Conference of States Parties to the CRPD (COSP16), which took place at the United Nations Headquarters, New York, from 13 to 15 June 2023, was on the theme: “Harmonising national policies and strategies with the CRPD: achievements and challenges.”

The purpose of the present Convention is to promote, protect and ensure the full and equal enjoyment of all human rights and fundamental freedoms by all persons with disabilities, and to promote respect for their inherent dignity.

The Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and its Optional Protocol was adopted on 13th December, 2006 at the United Nations Headquarters in New York, and was opened for signature on 30th March, 2007.

The Convention follows decades of work by the United Nations to change attitudes and approaches to persons with disabilities.

Ms. Oppong-Yeboah said disability rights are human rights and that “by promoting awareness and taking action to support inclusivity and equal opportunities, we can work towards a more inclusive society where all individuals, regardless of their abilities, can thrive.”

For her, it is important to empower individuals with disabilities to advocate for their own rights and be active participants in decision-making processes.

She also urged the media to give space to people with disabilities to share their experiences in order to raise awareness and drive positive change in the country.

Ms. Oppong-Yeboah expressed the concern that the rights of people with disabilities are oftentimes not considered in many things, including the user-friendliness of buildings.

She said “awareness about disability rights can help dismantle barriers and promote accessible housing, transportation, and community services.”

“It is important to recognise that people with disabilities have the same rights as everyone else and that they should be treated with respect, dignity, and fairness,” she noted.

Ms. Oppong-Yeboah, who is also a gender advocate said discrimination based on disability should not be tolerated by anyone in the society since “it breeds segregation and anger.”

While she commended Ghana for its efforts in promoting the rights of people with disabilities, she said “there is still work to be done.”

She said it was a welcoming news that Ms. Gertrude Oforiwa Fefoame, a Ghanaian, has now been elected as the new chair of the United Nations Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

She noted that the election of Ms. Fefoame should inspire the country to do more for persons with disabilities, stressing that it will inspire other African countries to follow suit.

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