Bisnauth says enabling environment can better help disabled

Guyana Chronicle
April 7, 2003

Related Links: Articles on health
Letters Menu Archival Menu

MINISTER of Labour, Human Services and Social Security, Dr Dale Bisnauth called Monday for the creation of an enabling environment to help disabled people realise their potential and allow them to participate in national development from which they also must benefit.

He said the target group should be aided to add their aptitudes which would give them an opportunity to perfect their skills, as well.

Bisnauth was addressing the National Federation of and for Disabled People annual seminar held in Umana Yana, Kingston, Georgetown, through co-sponsorship by his Ministry and Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sport.

He said efforts have been made recently to address the issue of persons with disability, by developing a national policy on their rights.

However, unfortunately, after four years that policy document still remains in draft, although Government conducted several workshops on the provision of the desired circumstances.

Minister Bisnauth said Guyana has pledged to collaborate with CARICOM partners on the integration, full participation and equality of persons with disabilities in the world of work and officers of his Ministry have participated in international fora which treated with the problem of unemployed disabled.

Nevertheless, he acknowledged that, in a society where unemployment is a problem, lack of employment for the disabled is doubly and triply more problematic.

According to him, disability is defined by the way impaired people are treated in a society where plans and programmes for development are not designed to accommodate them.

Bisnauth argued, though, that impairment has to do with the way one differs from another.

“Disability is not inability. Disability is injustice not tragedy, unequal treatment not inherent in equality,” he stressed, adding that disability is a social circumstance, a social construct and not a personal or medical condition.

Bisnauth declared that the time has long past for Guyana to transform its ideals on the matter into a credible reality, translate noble sentiments into action less it lapses into pious platitudes instead of moving from pledge to performance.

He agreed there would be need for wide participation, including Government, which will be responsible for planning and implementing projects for national inclusive development and the Private Sector, said to be the engine of growth, has to review its employment policy with a special eye for the disabled.

Bisnauth said the informal sector, non-governmental organisations and civil society can help in a positive way to change the attitude and perception of Guyanese, generally, towards the disabled.

But, more importantly, the disabled themselves and their organisations must all work together to create a just and participatory society in which all peoples can contribute to and enjoy life in its fullness, whether normal or disabled, the Minister stressed.

Bisnauth said this can be classified as a country far from out of poverty as WHO (World Health Organisation) has said 10 per cent of its population constitutes the disabled and are among the poorest of the poor.

He maintained that disability leads to a higher proportion of the disabled being poor in all societies and poverty is major cause of impairment, due to inadequate nutrition, poor sanitation, conflicts, lack of health care and no access to information.

Bisnauth said lack of access to employment and social mobility contributes a great lot to poverty, too and disability rights activists have been arguing that, to build the right environment, whether social or physical, to benefit the not disabled and not address the others is discriminatory, unjust and violates the principles of human rights.

He emphasised that failing to offer opportunities to the disabled, with invaluable human resources being left untapped is in violation of their human and civil liberties and impoverishes society.

Site Meter