Persons with Disabilities Bill and National Policy on Disability reviewed
By Adolf Kaure.
The National Disability Council of Namibia’s Project Manager, Jessica Gawachab said that people with disabilities should be employed at all levels when she spoke at the recent consultative workshop to review the Persons with Disabilities Bill and the National Policy on Disability which took place in Swakopmund.
The two-day consultative worship which was hosted by the Council was attended by over 30 stakeholders. “We are looking for people with disabilities not only at entry level, but also at middle, upper management as well as at executuve level of corporate and state institutions,” Gawachab said.
The Project Manager also stated that employment opportunities should also be compliant, accessible and not be discriminatory. “If you place an advertisement in the newspaper, how are people with visual impairment supposed to apply for these positions, if the advert states that it requires people with disabilities to apply?” she questioned.
According to Gawachab, the goverment should do all it can to ensure that people with disabilities recieve basic education, tailor-made for their special needs. “Education is a right not a benefit and the government should ensure that all get it,” Gawachab said.
The current Persons with Disabilities Bill and the National Policy on Disability was last reviewed in 1997. With changing times, it is evident that it has become obsolete to meet the needs of people with disabilities in the twenty first century, especially in the fast-moving world of the fourth industrial revolution.
Also speaking at the event, the Erongo Governor, Neville André expressed his desire for the policy and bill to be transmitted to Parliament before the end of the year.
“It is therefore important that the open and inclusive policymaking process that these legislative frameworks are following is transparent, evidence-driven, accessible and responsive to as wide a range of citizens as possible, especially persons with disabilities,” said André.
On 4 December 2007, the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD) and the Optional Protocol were ratified. Namibia has yet to develop and review policies and legislation to ensure alignment with the UNCRPD.
With consultations set to reach all regions of the country, the Persons with Disabilities Bill and the National Policy on Disability is a legislative attempt to entrench the UNCRPD principles in local laws.
The Project Manager for the National Disability Council of Namibia Jessica Gawachab challenged the status quo for policies to be reformed. (Photograph by Adolf Kaure)