Em­pow­er­ing the coun­try’s most vul­ner­a­ble

Vuk'uzenzele - - From Tyhoeuutnhiofnocbuusildings -

Ev­ery year, be­tween Novem­ber 3 and De­cem­ber 3, South Africa puts the spot­light on the rights of per­sons with dis­abil­i­ties through Dis­abil­ity Rights Aware­ness Month (DRAM) cam­paign.

This year, DRAM cam­paign will be guided by the theme, “Strength­en­ing Self-Rep­re­sen­ta­tion: Young peo­ple build­ing on the legacy of OR Tambo and Fri­day Mavuso to­wards sus­tain­able and re­silient so­ci­ety for all.”

The month pro­vides us, as a coun­try, with an op­por­tu­nity to re­flect on progress at­tained in uphold­ing the rights of per­sons with dis­abil­i­ties. The month also pro­vides us with an op­por­tu­nity to mo­bilise so­ci­ety in join­ing the strug­gle to­wards full lib­er­a­tion and em­pow­er­ment of per­sons with dis­abil­i­ties, in­clud­ing the youth.

The Na­tional De­vel­op­ment Plan recog­nises that dis­abil­ity must be in­te­grated into all facets of plan­ning. Bring­ing peo­ple liv­ing with dis­abil­i­ties fully on board is con­sid­ered one of the en­abling mile­stones to­wards 2030. There­fore it is im­por­tant for the so­ci­ety to un­der­stand that all bar­ri­ers (phys­i­cal, eco­nomic, pol­icy and at­ti­tudes) against peo­ple with dis­abil­i­ties should be re­moved. This will give peo­ple liv­ing with dis­abil­i­ties a chance to im­prove both their in­di­vid­ual sit­u­a­tions and also con­trib­ute to­wards the at­tain­ment of the na­tional ob­jec­tives and plans. DRAM 2017 pro­vides us with an op­por­tu­nity to look back at progress made in the 20 years since the first dis­abil­ity rights pol­icy in the new South Africa was re­leased. This strat­egy is known as the 1997 In­te­grated Na­tional Dis­abil­ity Strat­egy. It is also 10 years since South Africa rat­i­fied the United Na­tions Con­ven­tion on the Rights of Per­sons with Dis­abil­i­ties in 2007.

We have un­der­taken as coun­try among oth­ers that skilled, tech­ni­cal, pro­fes­sional and man­age­rial posts must re­flect the coun­try’s racial, gen­der and dis­abil­ity makeup. But de­spite the many ef­forts that we have made thus far re­gard­ing em­pow­er­ing peo­ple with dis­abil­i­ties, our 2016-17 em­ploy­ment eq­uity re­ports still show that per­sons with dis­abil­i­ties are grossly un­der­rep­re­sented at 1.2 per­cent at top man­age­ment lev­els.

There­fore in this month we high­light the sit­u­a­tion of the per­sons with dis­abil­i­ties in its to­tal­ity; the chal­lenges they face; the op­por­tu­ni­ties they have and still need, and the con­tri­bu­tion they make to this coun­try. It is there­fore im­por­tant to un­der­stand the de­mand that the sit­u­a­tion of peo­ple liv­ing with dis­abil­i­ties presents on us as the so­ci­ety and oblige in meet­ing them with­out hes­i­tancy; to love, sup­port and em­brace them as very in­te­gral part of our very be­ing and of the suc­cess of this coun­try.

Per­haps most im­por­tantly, DRAM 2017 takes place dur­ing the Year of OR Tambo, a strate­gist, a lib­er­a­tor, a global icon and a self­less leader who ded­i­cated his life to the lib­er­a­tion of his peo­ple. OR Tambo did not re­tire when he be­came dis­abled fol­low­ing a stroke in 1989, but in­sisted on con­tin­u­ing with his roles as ex­pected and found new and dif­fer­ent ways of com­mu­ni­cat­ing and con­tribut­ing de­spite his ill-health.

He went on to ac­cept nom­i­na­tion to be­come the Chan­cel­lor of the Univer­sity of Fort Hare in 1991. DRAM 2017 will fo­cus on the role that OR Tambo and other stal­warts with dis­abil­i­ties played and con­tinue to play in lib­er­at­ing South Africans with dis­abil­i­ties. It will cel­e­brate the lives of stal­warts such as the late Fri­day Mavuso, who led the es­tab­lish­ment of the dis­abil­ity rights move­ment of South Africa in the eight­ies, to­gether with heroes and hero­ines such as Maria Ran­tho, Wil­liam Row­land, Thu­lani Tsha­bal­ala, Jerry Nkeli, Phindi Mavuso, Kathy Ja­goe and many oth­ers.

It will sup­port young per­sons with and with­out dis­abil­i­ties to form a so­cial pact as vol­un­teers in build­ing an in­clu­sive South Africa free from dis­crim­i­na­tion and op­pres­sion by 2030 and be­yond. This coun­try is and should con­tinue to be a place which af­fords chil­dren and adults from all walks of life, both abled and dis­abled, op­por­tu­nity to play, learn, work and wor­ship to­gether freely de­spite their phys­i­cal dif­fer­ences.

To­gether let us con­tinue to build a co­her­ent, united so­ci­ety and move South Africa for­ward.

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