SA marks Disability Rights Awareness Month

Thursday, November 3, 2022

Minister in the Presidency for Women, Youth and Persons with Disabilities, Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, on Thursday launched the Disability Rights Awareness Month (DRAM) 2022.

The theme for this year is: 'Empowering Persons with Disabilities through resourceful, sustainable and safe environments'.

Speaking at the launch in Pretoria, Nkoana-Mashabane said her department’s approach to DRAM is informed by a series of wide consultations with the disability rights sector and government departments.

“Our commitment to the unique needs, experiences, and expertise of persons with disabilities is premised on international, regional and national frameworks,” Nkoana-Mashabane said.

At the international level, South Africa ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD) and its Optional Protocol without reservation in 2007.

“A critical moment and true display of political commitment was in the publishing of the White Paper on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in December 2015.

“We have the necessary policy frameworks and legislation. We now need to move into implementation. Therefore, we must move forward in terms of introducing specific priorities and achievable targets to ensure the progressive realisation of the rights of persons with disabilities in South Africa,” Nkoana-Mashabane said.

Nkoana-Mashabane said from the previous year to date, her department has worked on the priorities of the Presidential Working Group on Disabilities and there has been reasonable progress made.

“The progress on priorities over the past year displays a great deal of leadership in advancing the rights of persons with disabilities. However, much more can be done by all of us.

“South Africa will soon ratify the protocol on the African Human and People’s Rights Charter for Persons with Disabilities in Africa. We are investigating the possibility of legislating these frameworks into the Disability Rights Act.

“I call on all government departments to be involved in the process of developing the National Disability Rights Agenda as required by the Mid-Term Strategic Framework targets. We need more government departments to participate in the activities and events during Disability Rights Awareness Month, as part of their commitment to integration of persons with disabilities."

Nkoana-Mashabane said her department have received a list of events from other government departments on the interventions they will be facilitating during DRAM.

“We still encourage other departments that have not yet submitted their calendar of events to do so. The current events calendar welcomes new event recommendations from all sectors and it will be shared widely as an ongoing update.” 

Nkoana-Mashabane said in partnership with the National School of Government, she has concluded a Memorandum of Agreement to roll out Disability Inclusion Training.

“The training will serve to improve government departments' capacity to implement the policy directives and deliverables of the White Paper on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities,” she said.

The 2022 International theme is, 'Not all disabilities are visible'.

This year’s theme emphasises the importance of resolving existing barriers towards disability inclusion by ensuring resourceful, sustainable and safe environments for and with persons with Disabilities and also specially recognizing that not all disabilities are visible.

According to statistics, persons with disabilities continue to face various challenges, including serious unemployment, poverty and inequality.

In line with the theme, the Department of Women, Youth and Persons with Disabilities will coordinate activities and government departments will also implement activities identified according the calendar.

Amongst the activities identified is the Economic Empowerment Summit for Persons with Disabilities. –