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‘Nothing For Us; Without Us’ -PwD Remind Gov’t, Partners

Internews Liberia under the inclusive media project along with partners has held a daylong media and civil society round table forum on People living With Disabilities (PwD) in Liberia.
In commemoration of the International Day of People with Disability, this year’s event was held with the theme: Transformative solutions for inclusive development: the role of innovation in fueling an accessible and equitable world and held in Monrovia.
Panelists are the roundtable spoke on phone key topics Including Digital rights and inclusion for PwD, Media and PwD CSOs partnership for active civic engagement, Electoral process and PwD Civic Participation and finally Changing the narrative to amplify and increase plurality in Voices of PwD during election.
December 3, been set aside to celebrate the disabled community annually across the world, the event taking place in Liberia placed high on the agenda role of the media in helping push the voice of disable and disables participation in electoral activities.
Talking about election and PwDs involvement, a Commissioner of the National Elections Commission (NEC), Barsee Kpangbai, said the country depends on every citizen for decision making.
According to him, there is no need for discrimination in a democratic state and even the most marginalized group in society counts.
”It is common knowledge that a democratic state cannot be stable unless it is effective and legitimate with the respect and support of its citizens including those who have been historically marginalized,” Kpangbai said.
The commissioner emphasized the media has a pivotal role in every process intended to give voice to disable in democracy.
”To achieve full participation of people living with disabilities, civil society and the media are not only a check and monitor but also vital partners in the quest for this kind of relationship between the democratic state and its citizens,” he intimated.
Commissioner Kpangbai outlined workings of the NEC in relations to having disables form part of electoral mechanism and programs of the commission.
He reminded the audience that there are four criteria that underpins democratic processes in every state namely, effective citizens participation in the process, voting equality, enlightened understanding and final control of the agenda.
He noted that the criteria are necessary because in electioneering period’s politicians come to voters with so many confusing manifestos and only informed and prepared decision makers can save the state from said politicians.
According to Internews, the 2022 global observance to commemorate the International Day of Persons living with Disabilities is around the overarching theme innovation and transformative solutions for inclusive development, covering three different scopes.
The Internews Chief of Party, Lien Bach said it is important that society includes everyone in order to sustain democracy while the PwD’s were firmed that nothing about them happens without them.
They claimed that disability is not cheap and the mere fact that they are subjected to poverty is a disability all by itself thereby acknowledging that their conditions only add to their inability to be included.
They call on the government and state actors to include them in every sphere where they fit and are qualified so that they can earn for themselves and prove their worth adding that unlike the past, there are many PwD’s who have first degrees and more.
Over 50 participants mostly from National Union of Organizations of the disabled, journalists as well as PwD fellows, the NEC representative, the Press Union of Liberia prexy were in attendance.
The observance of the day aimed to promote an understanding of disability issues and mobilize support for the dignity rights and well-being of persons with disabilities.
It also seeks to increase awareness of gains to be derived from the integration of persons with disability in every aspect of political, economic, social and cultural life.
The celebration of this global event is not only paramount to the disabled community it is also a wakeup call to national stakeholders and policy makers to go beyond making policies ensuring that implementation of the existing national and international disability related human rights instruments is prioritized in all sectors of the society.

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