Together we can make International Day of Persons with Disabilities (IDPD) 2020 bring about change in the lives of girls and boys with disabilities in South Sudan!
The International Day of Persons with Disabilities is celebrated every year on 3rd December, also in South Sudan.
The International Day of Persons with Disabilities provides us with an opportunity to look at life in South Sudan through the eyes of persons with disabilities, to celebrate where we are improving their lives as equal citizens, and to commit to doing better where we are not making a difference.
The 2020 theme, “Building Back Better: Toward a disability-inclusive, accessible and sustainable post COVID-19 world” focuses attention of governments, international development cooperation partners, non-governmental organisations and the private sector, on ensuring that we leave no-one behind as we begin the post-COVID recovery phase.
People in South Sudan with disabilities, and their families, in general find themselves in the most marginalised sections of the population, as disability causes poverty, and poverty causes disability.
Perhaps the most important factor that hinders people with disabilities in South Sudan from living productive, joyful lives and contributing to rebuilding South Sudan, is the stigma that is still attached to disability.
The 3rd December, therefore, provides us with a focused opportunity to change the disability narrative for girls and boys with disabilities of school-going age. It requires us to change the narrative from only seeing obstacles to seeking solutions; to viewing disability from an ability and opportunity perspective, where local communities mobilise in solidarity to find local solutions to get boys and girls with disabilities to school every day. This includes ensuring that their schools are accessible and safe, and supporting families of children with disabilities by sharing the care responsibilities.
2020 is also a historic year for the IDPD celebrations in South Sudan. This year the South Sudan Union of Persons with Disabilities (SSUPDO) is leading the programme in partnership with the Ministry of Gender, Child and Social Welfare , and supported by the Ministry of General Education and Instruction and all international disability development cooperation agencies working in South Sudan, including GESS, with support from FCDO and Global Affairs Canada.
GESS will be mobilising communities to do more to improve the lives of girls and boys with disabilities in South Sudan.
We believe that everybody learns better if we learn together. Learning with boys and girls with disabilities in the same classroom gives us an opportunity to learn from their life experiences, and to learn that there are many ways of doing things.
We know that being disabled becomes easier if people treat you as equal and act in solidarity. If we act in solidarity and treat boys and girls with disabilities the same as other children, if we see their abilities and not just their disabilities, then we move forward as one community, and as one South Sudan.
We therefore call on the people of South Sudan, the Government of South Sudan, and all international development cooperation partners to make an effort to include boys and girls with disabilities as we build back better post COVID-19.COVID-19 has disrupted all of our lives. We know that people with disabilities often struggle more than others to recover from such setbacks, as we have already left them behind. So we all need to work a little harder to ensure that they are next to us when we restart our community activities, our schooling, our local economies after COVID-19.
As GESS, we commit to working with organisations of persons with disabilities, as represented by the South Sudan Union of Persons with Disabilities and learn from them how we can best do this.
During the week of 3rd December, and especially on 3rd December, let us think what we can do that will give girls and boys with disabilities visibility and voice in our communities.
Join us in posting positive messages of encouragement on your social media pages, using #IPDP2020SouthSudan. We will be sharing our disability inclusion success stories in GESS throughout the week, and we will continue to advocate for the change we want to see in our communities to provide better access for persons with disabilities.
We are asking households and community groups to identify people with disabilities who are contributing positively to their communities, and to discuss how they can act in solidarity.
We are inviting people with disabilities to share positive stories of their abilities with community groups and households.
We will be working with our community mobilisers and volunteers to identify households with children with disabilities who are not in school, and we will find local solutions to ensure that we work with our communities to ensure that all children with disabilities attend school when the schools re-open.