, LONDON, United Kingdom Jul 24 – The first ever global disability summit attracting participants from governments, the civil society, the private sector, donor agencies and charities has kicked off in London.
Kenya’s delegation is headed by the Labour and Social Protection Cabinet Secretary Ukur Yatani.
Addressing a civil society forum on Monday, the Cabinet Secretary said Kenya was honoured to co-host the summit with the government of the UK.
“We expect to get the best out this unique event and the people gathered here are in leadership positions that are crucial for the implementation of the outcomes of the event,” he said.
The civil society forum was a pre-cursor to the main summit that takes place today.
Yatani said Kenya takes the summit seriously and is a willing partner in the improvement of the welfare of persons with disabilities.
“I am bringing you greetings from our president, Uhuru Kenyatta, and the people of the republic of Kenya,” he told the gathering of participants from across the world.
The summit, which is taking place at Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in East London, is anchored on four key themes; Stigma and discrimination, inclusive education, economic empowerment and, innovation and technology.
In her welcome remarks via video link, the British Secretary of State for international development Penny Mordaunt said she was delighted to host the summit together with the government of Kenya and the International Disability Alliance.
She said, “I look forward to deliberations that will galvanise moment and commitments to deliver real and lasting change for people with disabilities.”
Five Kenyan legislators, living with disabilities, from the Senate and National Assembly are among the delegates at the summit.
Nominated Senator Dr. Gertrude Musuruve said she looks forward to commitments that will boost economic empowerment of persons with disabilities.
“Persons with disabilities should not be seen a burden to the society. If empowered, they can stand on their own and contribute to economic development,” she said.
Kajiado County Woman Representative Janet Teiyaa said Kenya lags behind when it comes to making public transport disability friendly. “I hope Kenya can implement what I have seen in London. The public transport system was designed with persons with disabilities in mind,’ she noted. “For example, there are ramps for wheel chairs into buses as well priority seats for PWDs in buses.”
Makueni County Woman Representative Rose Museo said she was looking forward to seeing stronger partnerships that yield better visibility and opportunities for persons with disabilities.
Anderson Gitonga, the Executive Director of the United Disabled Persons of Kenya said, “We are very hopeful that the governments and development partners will come together to make practical and tangible commitments that can be translated into real programmes and interventions that can change lives of persons with disabilities.”
Lizzie Kiama from This Ability Consulting and a champion of the rights of women living with disabilities said Kenyans have not invested in learning on disability issues. “We rely on our personal experience with disability which is problematic because it comes from a medical and charity model and we need to change approach,” she observed.
It is estimated that globally about 1 billion people have some form of disability and they continue to face appalling levels of stigma, discrimination and abuse.
[This article was authored by Alex Chamwada of Chams Media]