A Bolgatanga-based Non-Governmental Organisation, the Community Development and Advocacy Centre (CODAC), has held a day’s workshop for media practitioners selected from media houses across the Upper East Region in Bolgatanga.


The objective of the workshop was to improve the capacity of the participants to have a better understanding of gender issues and also, help to address issues on the rights of women and persons with disabilities while promoting responsive media reportage on such issues.


The workshop also formed part of activities CODAC was outlining as part of the implementation of a 12-month project christened “Strengthening Inclusive and Accountable Local Governance” project. The project, funded by STAR-Ghana, will be carried out in the Bongo and Tongo Districts of the Upper East Region. Its main objective is to increase the capacity of rural women, female household heads, Persons With Disabilities [PWDs] and their organisations and communities to enable them engage productively with local government decision makers.


A consultant to the project, Mr. Sumaila S. Saaka, stated that Ghana needed to urgently review its building code so that all building infrastructure, especially, public buildings were accessible to persons with disabilities. He emphasised that this was prescribed by law as the disability Act 715 explicitly states that all public buildings shall be made accessible to such persons. He however noted that people assigned the responsibility of ensuring this happens; often renege on their supervisory roles.


According to Mr. Saaka, making buildings accessible to PWDs goes far beyond just laying a wheelchair slide to a building and should to be seen to include the free movement of a PWD within the building with minimal or no support from others. He said for example a PWD should on his or her own, be able to reach out to switches to electric fittings such as lights, fans, air conditioners and so on as well as have unimpeded access to urinals and toilet facilities within the building.


Mr. Saaka cited a renowned British Scientist and Researcher, Professor Stephen Hawking who communicates via heavy support from machines fitted to a wheelchair which also aids the Professor’s movement, that “disability isn’t inability; what persons with disabilities need is support from their families, communities and colleagues at the work place and not pity”.


The Consultant also noted that, the female population dominates in many countries around the world and called on duty bearers to make deliberate efforts to ensure that women make inputs into decisions that mostly affect them and the welfare of their children. He further noted that, women bear huge responsibilities in the families and play major roles in the upbringing of children and thus their inclusion in both national and local issues will impact positively on the development of the country.


Turning his attention on the media, Mr. Saaka cautioned media practitioners especially journalists to be cautious in the kinds of terminologies they use to describe PWDs as negative stereotyping goes to further worsen the plight of PWDs. He charged journalists to use respectful and decent language when reporting on PWDs and issues that affect them.


The Executive Director of CODAC, Mr. Seidu Musah Akugri, in his remarks expressed appreciation to STAR-Ghana, the European Union and DANIDA for financing the implementation of the project and its quasi activities. He said his outfit saw the media as a critical partner in the success of the project as the target beneficiaries were mostly marginalised people without an effective platform to air their concerns and opinions on matters of development as well as on other issues of local and national interest.


Mr. Akugri therefore appealed to the media to regularly monitor and report on the workings and activities of the Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies (MMDAs), especially those activities that bother on PWDs such as the release of their fund and other kinds of support they may require from the MMDAs. This he noted, will expose challenges that PWDs encounter so that the public and senior state officials will hear and take appropriate measures to mitigate their plight.


The CODAC Director said for instance, journalists could monitor ongoing infrastructural projects in the assemblies and promptly report on the absence of facilities for the PWDs in the said projects. He also appealed to the media to allot air time and print space for PWDs to put forward their issues as well as reach out to decision makers and duty bearers. 


Source: ISD (Peter Atogewe Wedam)