IDPD: Inclusion of PWDs in governance still low

Every 3rd December, the world observes the International Day of Persons with Disabilities (IDPD) to mark the challenges, barriers and opportunities of those with disabilities. The day also marks an occasion to direct the efforts of the global community towards a more inclusive society.

Kenya is making significant steps towards ensuring inclusion of PWDs in mainstream governance and developmental processes by ensuring their voice is heard and reflected in policy decisions. In our legislative framework, Kenya has the Persons with Disabilities Act of 2003 that requires adjustments to public buildings, public transport to be made accessible and infrastructure in general to be more accommodating to the PWDs. In addition to this, there is also the 5 % quota in employment, public appointment and election of persons with disabilities provided for both in the Act and the Constitution. However, we still lag behind on the implementation of the Act, as the report by the Public Service Commission indicates that the number of PWDs employed by the Commission are low contrary to section 48 of the Public Service Commission Act calling for inclusivity.  

Attention should be drawn to the image of disability in the media with a view to an accurate and balanced portrayal of disability as a part of everyday life. The media can play an important role in highlighting disability issues in a way that could dispel negative stereotypes and promote the rights and dignity of persons with disabilities. Article 55 of the Constitution of Kenya 2010 requires that the State takes measures to ensure that youth, persons with disabilities, minorities and marginalized groups have access to relevant education and training, opportunities to associate, access employment and to be protected from harmful cultural practices and exploitation. With the support of the Hanns-Seidel Foundation (HSF) Mzalendo Trust recently launched a Policy Brief on Status of Disability Related Legislations in Counties with a view to highlight how the counties have enacted and implemented disability related legislations and establish the challenges experienced in the implementation of the reviewed legislations. County governments are expected to ensure and coordinate the participation of the marginalized groups by mainstreaming public participation platforms in all their policies and laws. However, the study shows that 55% of all counties lack disability-related legislation. Kenya heads to a general election in August 2022 yet persons with disabilities face systemic exclusion in political parties. The policy brief further takes note of how majority of political parties have excluded PWDs in their governance structures including the National Executive Council which is the highest decision-making organ in political parties. Political parties have made little or no investment in the involvement and participation of PWDs who are misconceived to be of low value to political parties owing to their socioeconomic status and scanty information on their demographics. The programmes run by most political parties and their respective manifestos also lack a clear mechanism of engaging PWDs. As the world celebrate 29 years since the proclamation of IDPD, county assemblies and county executive committees are being called upon to urgently ensure the representation of PWDs as well as various positions within the government in the spirit of the progressive realization of the principle that 5% of appointive and elective positions be held by PWDs. The media remains a critical instrument in raising awareness, countering stigma and misinformation about persons living with disabilities. It can be a powerful force to change societal misconceptions and present persons with disabilities as individuals that are a part of human diversity.

Posted by Mzalendo Editor on Dec. 6, 2021

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