Minister concerned about slow progress in empowering people with disabilities
16 Mar 2012
A lot of progress has been made in mainstreaming disability considerations into different policies and legislation since 1994. However, the realisation of the rights of South Africans with disabilities to equality as guaranteed in the South African Constitution has been slow. This was said by Minister of Women, Children and People with Disabilities, Ms Lulu Xingwana at National Disability Summit held in Boksburg this morning.
“Let us ask ourselves what we could have done differently that would have given equal access to children with disabilities finding themselves outside the education system because some believe they need more protection from system failures than other children. Let us ask ourselves why we live or work in a building that does not provide universal access to all South Africans? Why do we tolerate discrimination?” she said.
“We must strive to create a society that protects and develops the human potential of its children, a society for all where people with disabilities enjoy the same rights as their fellow citizens, and where all citizens and institutions share equal responsibility of creating such a society”, she said.
The Minister said that all South Africans should stand up and be counted and to take personal and collective responsibility for weaknesses that contribute towards the exclusion and discrimination of people with disabilities.
“The time has come that we translate many promises and commitments into action; that we move beyond words and statements”.
The Minister said that part of the problem confronting people with disabilities is the on-going discriminatory and stereotypical beliefs towards persons with disabilities which detracts from the mainstreaming of disability considerations in planning, service delivery and monitoring processes across all sectors at all levels; hostile built environments and communication systems which continue to exclude persons with disabilities from mainstream society; and lack of capacity within the disability sector, and in particular organisations of persons with disabilities, to effectively advocate for the rights of persons with disabilities in a sustained manner, and in particular at provincial and local levels.
She said that her department would focus on specific interventions to ensure that people with disabilities have equal access to education, employment and rural development opportunities and health and rehabilitation services and that they are and feel safe.
The summit was called by the Department of Women, Children and People with Disabilities to serve as a platform for government and its social partners to engage on the National Disability Agenda priorities, to reach consensus on the approach to the implementation of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, to further consult on key aspects of the National Disability Policy, and to update delegates on the status of the First Country Report on the Convention and the process towards depositing the report later this year.
Cornelius Tanana Monama
Tel: 012 359 0208
Cell: 082578 4063
Issued by: Department of Women, Children and People with Disabilities
16 Mar 2012
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