International Day of Persons with Disabilities observed

06 Dec 2013 15:30pm
WINDHOEK, 06 DEC (NAMPA) - The International Day of Persons with Disabilities was observed under the theme ‘Break barriers, open doors for an inclusive society for all’ in the capital on Thursday.
Speaking at the event, Tobias Hainyeko Constituency Councillor Zulu Shitongeni said this day was declared by the United Nations (UN) General Assembly to raise awareness about the needs and challenges of persons living with disabilities.
“In Namibia, we have many instruments in place which address the equality and rights of persons with disabilities. We have the constitution of the country, the National Policy on Disability, the National Disability Council Act, Affirmative Action Act, and Namibia has also endorsed the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities,” he n oted.
Shitongeni said many persons with disabilities still face obstacles in securing the support they need to be able to participate actively and equally in a “society for all”.
“We have children with disabilities of school-going age who are not in schools, we have persons with physical disabilities who need wheelchairs and other devices, especially in the villages and on farms, we have persons with disabilities who are using wheelchairs and are not able to enter some buildings due to lack of ramps, we have persons with disabilities who need education and skills’ training to secure employment,” he added.
Shitongeni stated that Government has tried to address some of these challenges, but still needs to do more.
The Khomas Regional Council, in conjunction with constituency councillors, has indeed started an economic empowerment programme for the less-privileged people of the Khomas Region.
“We are supporting them to begin small businesses, we give them some equipment and products to kick-start their businesses.
I also encourage persons with disabilities to make use of this initiative because they are entitled to it,” he stressed.
Also speaking at the event was Gerson Mutendere, the Secretary-General of the National Federation of People with Disabilities in Namibia (NFPDN), who stated that people with disabilities are one of the most vulnerable and poverty-stricken groups in Namibia.
He said the National Disability Policy of 1997 states that Government’s vision is to create a ‘society for all’ based on the principles of participation, integration and the equalisation of opportunities.
“It recognises that the low level of understanding of disability issues and the exclusion of persons with disabilities from the development process needs to be addressed”, Mutendere stated, adding that there are still people with disabilities in the regions who cannot access disability grants and medical appliances.
“Most of these people also do not have identification documents, and we have a high number of uneducated and unskilled people with disabilities as a result of the non-inclusive education system we have in Namibia,” he charged.