SA marks National Disability Rights Awareness Month

Monday, November 3, 2014

Pretoria – Social Development Minister Bathabile Dlamini says the process of finalising the National Disability Rights Policy is at an advanced stage. 

Speaking at the launch of National Disability Rights Awareness Month on Monday, the Minister said the policy includes a monitoring and evaluation framework that will allow her department to track progress made in eradicating inequalities and reducing poverty among people with disabilities and their families.

Through the policy, South Africa will ensure it honours its obligations under the International Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, to which it is a signatory.

The policy is also a means to promote the active participation of people with disabilities in the country’s economy. 

Minister Dlamini said government remained committed to ensuring that people with disabilities were not left out of the Post 2015 Development Agenda and that the Africa 2063 Agenda took everyone on board. 

She said South Africa had to collectively contribute to the empowerment of people with disabilities through accessible disability information services, inclusive early childhood development opportunities and accessible rehabilitation services, among others. 

“This will enable persons with disabilities to take up the opportunities created in much larger numbers, improving our performance in achieving equity targets,” said Minister Dlamini. 

Championing disability rights activists

Minister Dlamini saluted disability rights activists and Disabled People South Africa for the revolutionary work done before and after the 1994 elections in securing the rights of persons with disabilities as equal citizens. 

“The one voice in 1994 has grown to 11 Members of Parliament with disabilities in 2014 and 72 local councillors with disabilities. Persons with disabilities represent the voice of the sector in institutions such as the South African Human Rights Commission, the Commission on Gender Equality, the Board of the South African Broadcasting Corporation, National Youth Development Agency and many transformation and developmental entities,” Minister Dlamini said.

South African experience has also helped to shape the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and the Continental Plan for the African Decade of Persons with Disabilities. 

Social Development Deputy Minister Hendrietta Bogopane-Zulu said a number of activities will take place during the month, including showcasing what technology can do for older persons, which can also work for people with disabilities. 

“On November 10, we will showcase an old age home that has been made fully accessible [using technology]… We will showcase what technology can do to improve the lives of those that require frail care,” she said. 

Dialogues will also be held on HIV and Aids, disability and violence. 

From 17 to 21 November, South Africa will host an international conference to tackle the challenges experienced by deaf and blind people. 

South Africa has been celebrating the International Day for Persons with Disabilities annually since 1997. 

In 2009, South Africa introduced the concept of coordinating the activities of National Disability Rights Awareness Month as a build up to 3 December, which is the International Day for Persons with Disabilities. 

In 2013, Cabinet approved that November 3 to December 3 be observed as National Disability Rights Awareness Month and that December 3 be observed as the National Day of Persons with Disabilities. –