Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Disabled people receive a boost

By Ilhaam Hoosain
29 April 2008

The struggle against the abolition of the inequalities and discrimination of people with disabilities has received a major boost.

From Saturday, May 3rd, the UN Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities comes into operation, while its Optional Protocol kicks in 30 days later.

South Africa is one of the first countries to approve the Convention last year and the SA Human Rights Commission welcomes this turn of events and is particularly pleased.

This Convention will combine all the needs of people with varying disabilities into provisions that the State must ensure is gradually grasped.

Local legislation must now align itself with the contents of the Convention in order to guarantee that transformation takes place for people with disabilities that affect them on a daily basis.

The SAHRC says that it is encouraging that the international community, through the drafting of the Convention, seeks to elevate the standards of living for this vulnerable group, which ideally will result in socio-economic affirming and empowerment for people who have, to a large degree, been isolated in terms of general access. People with disabilities make up the largest cross-cutting minority group in most countries. It is not a homogenous group and therefore, diverse capacities must be accommodated.

They go onto to say that the prevalence of HIV/AIDS, poverty and civil wars, to name but a few challenges faced by Africa has a catastrophic impact on the prevalence of disabilities. It is noted that our sister countries Egypt, Gabon, Namibia, Tunisia and Mali have also ratified and we are hopeful that the rest of African will follow suit.

The Commission is particularly concerned about access to education, health, social security, employment, physical environments and independent living within a broad group of rights that must be instituted in order to fully realize equality for all. Quick action must be taken to achieve and surpass the minimum employment targets of 2% in both government and business.

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