Cape Town - Western Cape Department of Social Development MEC Sharna Fernandez has called for continued efforts in championing the rights of people living with disabilities in the province.
Fernandez shared the sentiments while reflecting on Disability Rights Awareness Month (DRAM), observed annually from November 3 until December 3, when various countries across the globe including South Africa commemorate International Day of Persons with Disabilities.
She said: “While Disability Rights Awareness Month has come to an end, we should continue recognising that the rights of persons with disabilities are human rights.”
According to her office, Fernandez in her capacity as provincial minister for the Department of Social Development engaged with various civil society organisations supported by the government department during DRAM to understand better how the department can support organisations working with or looking after people living with disabilities in local communities.
Following this, she announced the allocation of R164 million to support non-profit organisations that provide therapeutic and support services.
She said: “I visited the DSD’s Sivuyile Residential Facility, where significant upgrades are currently under way to ensure the children and adults who receive care there are extra comfortable.
“Those working at our NGO partners, the Carel du Toit Centre and the League of the Friends of the Blind, and not forgetting the clients at these facilities, and I was greatly moved by the passionate staff working there.
“These clients shared their inspirational journeys of living with a disability and how they have been able to access job and skills development opportunities through the support of these NGOs.”
“It is all about inclusion. If we as a society can do more to create accessible spaces free of discrimination, we would have the benefit of the many wonderful talents, knowledge and skills of these individuals,” Fernandez said.
Fernandez also commented on part of DRAM coinciding with the 16 Days of Activism for No Violence Against Women and Children Campaign.
She called on society to continue working on creating inclusive spaces for people living with disabilities within the anti-gender-based violence sector, where individuals could also safely share their trauma and receive the same support services as those living without disabilities.
She said more work needed to be done on this front.
“Disability Rights Awareness Month coincides with the 16 Days of Activism for No Violence Against Women and Children. So we do not forget persons with disabilities in our call for an end to violence and abuse.
“We need the support of the private sector in joining hands with government, NGOs and communities in accelerating the rights of persons with disabilities,” Fernandez said.