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Advocating for equal opportunities during Disability Month

Wheelchair tennis player Mayenzeke Gwija and Mncedi Zenani practicing in Khayelitsha as South Africa celebrates National Disability Rights Awareness Month. Pictures: Brendan Magaar

Wheelchair tennis player Mayenzeke Gwija and Mncedi Zenani practicing in Khayelitsha as South Africa celebrates National Disability Rights Awareness Month. Pictures: Brendan Magaar

Published Nov 10, 2023


Mawande Ndongeni

In the past, physical, sensory, psychosocial, neurological and cognitive impairments have resulted in limitations to the quality of life and social participation of the individuals affected by the disabilities. When one considers how discriminative some social regimes have been coupled with how primitive technology was; the theme for this year’s Disability Rights Awareness Month declared as “consolidate and accelerate rights of persons with disabilities into the future” is a fitting statement from a government that is pro equity and equality of all people.

South Africa’s most memorable move in the advocacy and equal opportunity was elevating the disability advocacy agenda up into the Presidency along with women and youth, a move illustrating the government’s clear agenda of ridding society of bias and stereotypes, limits and barriers for people living with disabilities. As time goes by and the world and its people move away from uninformed notion into an inclusive future, developing practical solutions for people with disabilities will be critical to ensure people’s adequate standard of living in public life, cultural life, sports and recreation.

Empowering all abilities is the perfect equaliser in society as it gives people of different abilities a moment to be seen, heard and appreciated. We have seen the likes of the late Zanele Situ who was awarded the Order of Ikhamanga for her outstanding contributions to sport by the Presidency. Many other Paralympic athletes for Team SA have inspired a generation and produced some amazing feats. It remains notable but the African continent hosted its first continental Paralympic games – the African Para Games. This is indicative of the will of Africa to be an inclusive society and an advocate for equal opportunity and inclusivity.

Another major milestone in South Africa’s inclusivity agenda has been the pronouncement of Sign language as the 12th official language. Through this act, the culmination of the “ persons with disabilities must receive information in a format that will enable them to access the information as readily as other people are able to access it”. Empowering every ability relies of ensuring everyone has an opportunity to be informed for better decision-making.

The South African government has taken great strides in taking care of all its people, this is in stark opposition to the once brutal regimes of South Africa that would send the so called “insane” and “socially undesirable” to Robben Island , away from society to rob them of social inclusion. It is evident that the South African government has been progressive in empowering everyone’s abilities through social mobilisation campaigns such as Mental Health Awareness Month, Disability Rights Awareness Month. Society will, through technology and content ensure that we all live in a prejudice free, non-discriminatory nation that accepts difference as strength and not strange - the Springboks showed us that in France, we anticipate Team SA’sParalympics to dominate in France as well next year. !ke e: /xarra //ke .

*Ndongeni is an employee at GCIS

**The views published do not necessarily reflect the views of Independent Media or IOL