QEII Scholars Blog Series – “Empowering persons with disabilities in Ghana”
Marking the second in our five-part series is a piece contributed by Ebenezer Dassah. Ebenezer, who is pursuing a doctoral degree in Rehabilitation Science, is focusing on the lived experiences of people with physical disabilities in accessing and utilizing healthcare services in rural Ghana.
“Empowering persons with disabilities in Ghana”
In 2007 Ghana adopted the United Nations Convention on the Right of Persons with Disabilities and has ramped up its efforts since then to integrate disability issues in social and economic development. According to the 2010 Population and Housing Census Summary Report, 3% of the estimated 24 million people of Ghana are persons with disabilities (PWDs). The majority of this population remains unemployed, in part due to discriminatory societal attitudes, which often regard PWDs as unproductive and incapable of contributing to the economy.
Nevertheless, several state policy interventions are aimed at providing employment opportunities for PWDs. For example, the government of Ghana passed a Disability Act in 2006 (Act 715). A portion of the Act mandates the creation of public employment centers to assist PWDs in securing a job. Unfortunately, full implementation of the Disability Act has not been realized due to institutional and social constraints, and therefore unemployment for PWDs still remains a challenging issue.
The Ghanaian government has recently established a National Council on Persons with Disability (NCPD) with the aim of proposing and developing policies and strategies to enable PWDs’ entry and participation in the mainstream economic development process. As part of its efforts, the NCPD is collaborating with the Ghana Investment Fund for Electronic Communications (GIFEC) to establish a Disability Employment Project. The collaboration between the two organizations is focused on the creation of Easy Business Centers for PWDs. These centers will consist of kiosks that would enable PWDs to sell telecom accessories such as phone recharge cards, USB data modems, mobile phone cards, and also carry out SIM card registration.
The centers will, among other things, provide opportunity to PWDs in both rural and urban settings. PWDs in cities who sometimes lose their lives due to begging on the streets will be economically empowered to improve their standard of living. The project will also offer PWDs in rural Ghana income generating activities that will support basic healthcare, food security and shelter needs and also reduce the financial burden on their families.
As a QE II Scholar and a PhD student in the School of Rehabilitation Therapy, I am improving my research skills, and I hope to eventually return to Ghana to be involved in the continued efforts for full inclusion of people with disabilities. We have a long way to go, but our incremental progress is inspiring.