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Let’s deal with barriers, stigma against PWDs- Norwegian Ambassador to Ghana

BY: Nana Konadu Agyeman
Dr Eugene Owusu (left), Presidential Advisor in charge of the SDGs; Ms Mawunyo Yakor-Dagbah (2nd from left), President of the Ghana Federation of Disability Organisations; Mrs Gertrude Oforiwa Fefoame (2nd from right), aspiring President of the Ghana Federation of Disability Organisation, and Ms Ingrid Mollestad (right), Norwegian Ambassador, in a group photograph. Picture: ERNEST KODZI
Dr Eugene Owusu (left), Presidential Advisor in charge of the SDGs; Ms Mawunyo Yakor-Dagbah (2nd from left), President of the Ghana Federation of Disability Organisations; Mrs Gertrude Oforiwa Fefoame (2nd from right), aspiring President of the Ghana Federation of Disability Organisation, and Ms Ingrid Mollestad (right), Norwegian Ambassador, in a group photograph. Picture: ERNEST KODZI

The Norwegian Ambassador to Ghana, Ms Ingrid Mollestad, has called for greater commitment at both national and global levels to deal with barriers, stigma and discrimination against persons with disabilities (PWDs).

She said PWDs, who make up about 15 per cent of the world’s population, were mostly marginalised and excluded in many countries.

According to Ms Mollestad, if the sustainable development goals (SDGs) were to be achieved, social and economic development must be rights-based and disability-inclusive, so that no one would be left behind in national development.

“Together, we must and can combat various types of barriers, stigma and discrimination. We must and we can promote equal access to social services and participation, as well as ensure meaningful engagement of PWDs,” she added.

Ms Mollestad made the call at the Global Disability Summit 2022, which ended in Accra last Friday.

The two-day virtual summit was participated in by 7,000 people from around the world, including heads of state, those from the private sector, development partners, as well as civil society organisations.

They discussed ways to raise global attention and focus on neglected areas and inclusive sustainable development.

The participants also deliberated on ways to strengthen the capacity of organisations of PWDs in the Global South and their engagement with governments, as well as mobilise targeted and concrete commitment on disability inclusion and inclusive development, among others.

The programme was jointly organised by the International Disability Alliance (IDA), the Government of Norway and the Government of Ghana.

COVID-19 effect

Ms Mollestad also said the COVID-19 pandemic had further increased inequalities, adding that “improving the lives of PWDs — in fact, ensuring enjoyment of their human rights — will have a significant impact not only for individuals but also society at large”.

She, however, said efforts were being made to achieve the SDGs for PWDs, especially women and girls who were already experiencing discrimination.

To accomplish that, she said: “A wide range of actors must be on board and fully committed to make this change happen. Be loud, be clear and hold us accountable.”

Commitment

The Special Advisor to the President on the SDGs, Dr Eugene Owusu, expressed the government's commitment to empower PWDs, who he said were endowed with a wealth of talents that must be leveraged to enhance the country's chances of achieving the SDGs.

"All of us must let our humanity manifest in our support and compassion for PWDs. I believe it is right to do so and it is a moral obligation to achieve the commitments we have made," he added.

For his part, the President of the Ghana Federation of Disability Organisations, Mrs Mawunyo Yakor-Dagbah, said "it is time for us to commit and act together and make progress".