Rwanda has joined the rest of the world to celebrate the International Day of Persons with Disabilities (IDPD) under the theme: “Leadership and participation of Persons with Disabilities toward an inclusive, accessible and sustainable post-COVID-19 world.”
The observance of the day intended to promote the rights of Persons with Disabilities (PwDs) through public awareness. It was also an occasion to educate the general public on issues and barriers preventing Persons with Disabilities from participating equally in the country’s development. It also sought to increase awareness of gains to be derived from the inclusion of Persons with Disabilities in every aspect of political, social, economic and cultural life.
Rwanda celebrates a number of achievements in terms of promoting the rights and wellbeing of Persons with Disabilities including the establishment of law, policies as well as the National Commission for Persons with Disabilities since 2011. However, PwDs continue to face challenges in accessing services and enjoying their rights in different sectors, including limited contribution to public processes and accessing services and programmes aimed at alleviating poverty and empowering citizens. Many factors like stigma, lack of awareness, poverty, low income, illiteracy and unemployment continue to restrict the full enjoyment of disability rights.
While celebrating the International Day of Persons with Disabilities 2021, The Government of Rwanda is committed to address the above mentioned barriers in close collaboration with its partners as well as with Persons with Disabilities and those without disabilities, at all levels.
“As an inclusive government, we recognize that development cannot be achieved when some of us are left behind. On this particular day, we wish to express our commitment to support persons with disabilities, to ensure they participate in leadership and decision making processes for the achievement of the disability related SDGs and national policies.” Said Honorable Jean Marie Vianney Gatabazi, Minister of Local Government.
According to UNICEF’s newly launched disability statistical analysis, there are 240 million children with disabilities in the world. In Rwanda, UNICEF has been working with the Government and local organizations to promote the rights of PwDs, with focus on children and young people, through community dialogues among other interventions.
“The human spirit is one of ability, perseverance and courage that no disability can steal away. As UNICEF, we recognize the tremendous abilities of persons with disabilities and pledge our continued and unwavering support to help them achieve their dreams and aspirations, particularly in these testing times of COVID-19.” Said Julianna Lindsey, UNICEF Representative in Rwanda.
The celebrations of IDPD at national level were held in Rubavu District.