Deputy Minister for Women, Youth, and Persons with Disability Hlengiwe Mkhize launched a month-long activity programme in Pretoria today to celebrate Disability Rights Awareness Month.  This is as November is globally celebrated as Disability Awareness Month.

A series of activities have been lined up from today until the third of next month to commemorate the rights of persons with disabilities. This year’s theme is: “Removing barriers to create an inclusive and accessible society for all,” as proclaimed by the United Nations.

Persons with disabilities include those who have long-term physical, mental, intellectual, or sensory impairments.

In South Africa, the theme for this year’s campaign is:  “Together building communities inclusive of disability rights.”

Acting Director of Rights of Persons with Disabilities branch of the Women, Youth and Persons with Disability Department Benny Paline says there are numerous areas of concern in addressing the plight of persons with disabilities.

“We will look at fifteen key areas of concern. That includes your education, health, rehabilitation, sign language issues, especially South African sign language. It will look at special schools, work centres, questions of reasonable accommodation, for instance, the workplace adjustments, issues around matters that relate to how you treat a person with a disability as society.”

Abuse against women and persons with disabilities 

Presidential Working Group on Disability’s Nkosinathi Ndhlovu says abuse of any form against women and persons with disabilities must be condemned.

“We must make sure that the public is aware of what is happening. People who are being discriminated against out there, people must stop those things. We must make sure that awareness is there. Why? Because disabled people are that. Not just all of them but it’s about all of us. Abuse of disabled people is not allowed. Remember, most people are being discriminated and they are being abused, so we are not going to accept that. So we are asking people of South Africa to protect the women and disabled people.”

Meanwhile, Mkhize says Disability Awareness Month offers an opportunity for every single person and institution to remove barriers and to improve the quality of life of people with disabilities through concrete action.

“Advocating for the rights of persons with disabilities is an on-going task which requires all of us; government, public, private stakeholders as well as the communities to work together in ensuring that we are in defence of our constitution, legislation, a white paper on the rights of persons with disabilities, UN convention on the rights of persons with disabilities.”

President Cyril Ramaphosa is expected to address the launch of the 365 Disability Rights Awareness Campaign on the third of next month.