A call for Disability Rights Parliament

Botswana Federation of the Disabled (BOFOD) Coordinator Shirley Keoagile has called for a Disability Rights Parliament on world disability day, saying this would bring together leaders and representatives of all national disability organizations country wide to interrogate progress, challenges and recommendation for the coming year, as well as audit programmes meant for people living with disabilities (PWDs).

She said this would provide Batswana living with disabilities with an opportunity to engage one another across racial, gender, age, geographical and other divides on the progress they have made as a society in breaking barriers which segregate, isolate and exclude PWDs. She said this will also foster social cohesion where Batswana with disabilities are valued community members able to participate in social, economic and governance of their communities, adding that it would also provide an opportunity for them to reach consensus on priorities to be addressed collectively over the next five years.

“Disability Rights Parliament is a programme for both parliamentarians and PWDs which will result in the formation of a society that not only talks about social inclusion but also displays this social inclusion in our daily lives. We will be engaging ministers and relevant Members of Parliament (MPs) on issues that will be discussed and map a way forward together. Disability issues are never progressive in Botswana, people are still angry, they want implementation, so at least this way we will be taking turns as PWDs with MPs and ministers responsible to reason and explain why our programs and projects are forever taking long and failing to be implemented the previous year. This will also map a way forward for next year. It will educate parliamentarians to view disability issues in a social model perspective and equal access for service for all,” she said.

Keoagile also noted that the need to create Disability commission which will provide  an opportunity for PWDs to learn how Parliament functions, and to elect office bearers for the Disability Rights Parliament on world disability day commemorations is critical for Botswana.”

Meanwhile, Botswana’s neighboring country, South Africa hosted their first ever Disability Rights Parliament this month which is said to have brought together representatives of all national disability organizations as well as delegates from provinces, to engage on the progress made in the first 20 years of their freedom in advancing disability rights and achieving social inclusion for people living with disabilities.