AN AFFIRMATIVE ACTIN BILL THAT DOES NOT INCLUDE PERSONS WITH DISABILITIES IS DISCRIMINATORY
The purpose of Affirmative Action among others is to promote the full and active participation of the marginalized groups including persons with disabilities in public life by providing a more equitable system of representation in electoral politics and governance structures and must be fair all. However Ghana’s Affirmative Action (Gender equality) Bill, 2016 is discriminatory since it does not include persons with disabilities.
Ghana Federation of Disability Organisations and its member representative organisations of persons with disabilities want to state our position on the affirmative action Bill, 2016.
Being inspired and guided by the 1992 Constitution and the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UN CRPD), the Ghana Federation of Disability Organisations and its member representative organisations are working tirelessly to ensure that bills that do not address disability are not passed into law.
In accordance with standard practice, this burden moved GFD and its member representative organisations of persons with disabilities to take a critical look at the Affirmative Action (Gender Equality) Bill, 2016, especially based on the fact that an affirmative action law is of extreme necessity to the empowerment of persons with disabilities to be active participants in the Ghanaian society. Contrary to standard practice, the outcome of the study of the Bill revealed that the Bill does not address disability which is a serious anomaly.
The GFD and organisations of persons with disabilities acknowledge the fact that this anomaly can be rectified, notwithstanding the fact that the Persons with Disability Act, 2006 (Act 715) is yet to be given the needed legal enforcement. Significantly, affirmative action remains a powerful tool in addressing inequitable representation of persons with disabilities in public office, governance and decision-making positions. It is noteworthy that, disability is an evolving concept and part of the natural human diversity. Hence if this bill is passed into law without specifically including disability, persons with disabilities will further be marginalized in perpetuation of the historic disadvantage that persons with disability are made to endure in Ghanaian society. In this light, the organisations of persons with disabilities led by GFD are appealing for a review of the Affirmative Action (Gender Equality) Bill, 2016; to include disability in its entirety.
The request for the review of the Affirmative Action (Gender Equality) Bill, 2016; to include disability is informed by:
The absence of a single legislation in Ghana that adequately mainstreams disability deprives persons with disabilities of their constitutional right to be equally and effectively empowered as dignified Ghanaians. Above all, the practice of non-mainstreaming of disability in Ghanaian law contradicts good practice. This discriminatory practice must stop.
The identified Legislative Gap in the Affirmative Action Bill
The Bill is premised on Article 17 of the 1992 Constitution which does not specifically mention disability as a g round of discrimination. Consequently the bill does not address “disability” in its entirety.
The legal Grounding for the Rectification
In line with Article 37 clause 2(a) and (b) of the 1992 Constitution, we persons with disabilities request that the Affirmative Action Bill is amended to achieve the de facto equality of persons with disabilities and the full realization of our social and economic rights as Ghanaians.
In the absence of reliable disaggregated data by gender, age and disability on persons with disabilities in Ghana; the World Health Organisation estimation that about 15% of the world’s population lives with some form of disability becomes the alternate premise for determination of population of persons with disabilities in Ghana. In this regard, the request for an inclusive Affirmative Action Bill is premised on the fact that the exclusion of disability from the Affirmative Action Bill is an agenda to effectively exclude 15 per cent of Ghana’s population when passed into law.
GFD with its member organisations of persons with disabilities and stakeholders commend the position of Government of Ghana on the White Paper on the Report of the Constitution Review Commission that an Affirmative Action Act should deal with all types of discrimination against vulnerable groups and minorities. On the contrary, this Bill does not deal with all types of discrimination against vulnerable groups and minorities― which includes persons with disabilities. Currently, Ghana needs an Affirmative Action Bill that is premised on the principle of inclusion. An inclusive Affirmative Bill with the bedrock of diversity is a giant step towards Ghana’s achievement of sustainable development.