STATEMENT ON OBSERVANCE OF THE UN INTERNATIONAL DAY FOR PERSONS WITH DISABILITIES 2022
The National Gender and Equality Commission (NGEC) joins all Persons with Disabilities (PWD) in Kenya and the world at large in observing the United Nations International Day of Persons with Disabilities. This year’s theme is “Transformative solutions for inclusive development: the role of innovation in fueling an accessible and equitable world’’.
Kenya like other developing economies has over time pursued development policies contingent on innovations and rapid technological changes. However, a large number of poor and vulnerable groups including PWDs have continued to be excluded from the total benefits of investments in technology and inventions. This means such groups are left out of processes and progress of development. This is compounded by complex and interconnected crises facing humanity in contemporary society that include among others, consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic, conflict and war, drought, climate change, floods and wildfires, and economic recession.
Kenya has put in place various policy, legislative and programmatic measures aimed at protecting and promoting the rights of Special Interest Groups (SIGs) including PWDs. The Constitution of Kenya 2010 has specifically devoted numerous provisions to the participation, inclusion, and representation of PWDs in governance and leadership, social safety programs, public finance, law-making processes, land and natural resource management, just to mention a few spheres of development. In addition, Kenya is a signatory to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD), The Africa Disability Protocol (Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities) both of which seek to protect the rights and dignity of PWDs. Further, Kenya is a party to the 2030 Global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and Africa Agenda 2063.
Despite these efforts, PWDs suffer multiple discriminations, poverty, deprivation of their liberties, and limited enjoyment of rights. The built environment, transport, communications, access to information, and assistive technology, are some of the key sectors of life that PWDs have little control and access to. Most of the innovative solutions developed to address present-day challenges and accelerate economic growth, for example, digital trading, learning, and skill development programs are not always inclusive. Further, within the pool of technology inventors, authors, designers and innovators, PWDs are marginally represented. PWDs are sometimes relegated to consumption and rarely considered for their remarkable capacity to contribute to research, creation of wealth, proof of concepts, and development of the solution.
The Commission applauds the government for its continued support to advancing the implementation of its commitments to the 2018 Global Disability Summit which are essentially annexed to the realization of the 2030 SDGs and fulfilment of UNCRPD. We specifically recognize the increased investment by the private sector in inclusive technology and innovations. For example, we commend the innovation of disability-friendly digital money transfer solutions which have expanded fiscal opportunities for PWDs. We call upon the government to continue providing necessary incentives to private and public actors to spur smart innovations and the use of technological changes that promote universal use and access.
As we commemorate this day, we appeal to all actors, to purpose to promote equality and inclusion of PWDs in development through innovations and technological solutions. We also call on the Kenyan Parliament to hasten amendment of Disabilities Act 2003 to ensure that it is in conformity with the Constitution of Kenya 2010 and all the treaties and Conventions signed and/or ratified by the country, that touch on the Rights of PWDs. On our part, the National Gender and Equality Commission commits to continue promoting and protecting the rights of PWDs in all spheres of life.
Dr. Joyce Mwikali Mutinda, PhD, EBS