By MUHAMMED S. BAH
The Gambia Federation of the Disable (GFD) in close collaboration with the Education Free for All Network (EFANET), on Thursday 13 October 2016 held a consultative meeting with key stakeholders to get a feedback from them in finalising the National Disability drafted bill and review the Disability policy.
This meeting was attended by Disabled People Organisations (DPOs), Representatives from the Department of Social Welfare, Ministry of Justice, National Assembly members, TANGO, Youth led Institutions, among other institutions, NGOs and the Media.
The meeting also witnessed the review of the GFD advocacy plan and inputs on the plan by the key stakeholders who were present.
According to Ebrima Dibbassey, GFD executive Director, the meeting is a feedback from key stakeholders on the National Disability Bill and Disability policy.
“We have drafted a bill in consultation with the Department of Social Welfare under the Ministry of health, Ministry of Justice and also with some stakeholders, so we are given the chance to consult disabled people’s organisations (DPOs) which form the Federation, to give chance to them to have the final touches on the bill and policy,” Mr Dibbasey said.
He noted that this meeting is very crucial, because it creates a platform for people who are directly affected to scrutinise it thoroughly and add their inputs to feel the gaps.
“So therefore we are anticipating before 3rd December which is World Disability Day for the bill to be enacted by the National Assembly Members to be part of the Laws of the Land,” he argued.
Mr. Dibassey further noted that there will be a follow-up workshop on the 18th -19th October 2016, at Ocean Bay through the Ministry of health, Social welfare, Ministry of Justice, GFD, and he noted that this follow-up workshop is funded by Un High Commissioner for Human rights based in Dakar. Talking on the impact of the law if enacted Mr. Dibbassey noted that, the bill when enacted will enhance the lives and livelihood of people with disability in all facets of live, such as education, access to public services, amongst many other things.
Lamin Dibba Secretary General of GFD, and member of the steering Committee on advocacy on the Disability bill, said the response at the meeting was very positive because of active participation of the participants.
He further stressed that the bill will help a lot because it contains almost all the components addressing the plight of persons with disabilities.
“A lot of things are embedded in the bill, such as access to education, access to positive livelihood, public services among many other things, so when we have this bill as an Act, it will definitely go a long way in enhancing lives and livelihood of persons with disabilities, because it will serve as a guarding tool to help disable people to get what they are entitled to,” he remarked.
In his statement on behalf of the National Coordinator, Mr. Siyat Gaye, Farimang Phatey Programme Officer said, “I would just like to remind each and every one that EFANet is taking a cue from section 30 of the constitution of the Gambia and has been advocating for the right of everyone to quality education since its inception. This includes persons with disabilities, at EFANet, we are of the belief that education is a tool that empowers people to determine their destiny”.
He said it is in recognition of this that they dedicated a component of their civil society education Fund Project (2016-2018) to disability issues.
Mr. Phatey disclosed their two major activities are the Disability Bill and the celebration of the international Day for persons with Disabilities.
“Over the years, the GFD- has been leading the advocacy for a Disability Act. They have made tremendous efforts and progress but have also faced challenges in the course of their advocacy. However, with support from civil society and government institutions, they are able to push the matter this far,” he remarked.
“We are hopeful that with the continued support of the civil society and government institutions, we will soon have a Disability Act,” he assured.
He further assured EFANet support of the GFD, in achieving their goals.