Nations are increasingly demonstrating a commitment to disability rights by enacting national policies on disability.
Among them, Tanzania has, in addition to being a signatory to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), made a public commitment to the rights of persons with disabilities through a number of national policy mechanisms such as the Persons with Disabilities Act of 2010.
As in other nations with policy commitments to disability rights, however, the principles and promises made in policy documents often are not reflected in direct action for the Act’s intended beneficiaries.
In Tanzania, it is estimated that around 4.5 million people live with disability. For decades PWDs face myriad challenges such as abuse, lack of education, illiteracy, and unemployment and despite the available international law and national laws that protect their rights, the implementation of such laws is at a very low stage.
PWDs should be encouraged to apply for formal employment opportunities and that there should be gender equality.
All working barriers such as lack of lifts and ramps in office buildings, equipment, and reliable transport to and from the office should be removed and companies should be sensitized to have disability policies and legislations in workplaces that oversee the employment of PWDs and penalties for those who do not comply with them must be formed.
The law is there and so are numerous regulations that seek to ensure PWDs are always given due recognition and equal right in accessing public facilities, but the most important thing is how the society perceives them and caters to their needs.
This is about setting in process a turnaround in mindsets, so that the people with disability in our midst do not feel left out or held down by their disabilities.
The media should be in the frontline on this. The society too should realize that PWDs are part of the society; they also can contribute the same or even more in the society development if given opportunity to education and empowered to work.