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The Kenya Disability Parliamentary Association (KEDIPA) Urges for more Inclusion in Decision Making

Calls for more inclusion in appointments to public office and reforms on the existing law with regard to the rights of people with disability, characterized the opening session of a retreat by the Kenya Disability Parliamentary Association (KEDIPA) this morning.

The Speaker of the National Assembly, Hon. Justin Muturi fired the first salvo when he called on Kenyans to champion for their right to representation in Parliament, as well as in decision making organs in the other arms of government, with the same zeal as the nation has led, the clarion call for gender representation.

Speaking when he opened a 2-day retreat for Members of Parliament living with Disability at the Sarova Whitesands Hotel, Mombasa, Speaker Muturi noted that though people living with disability have a guaranteed right to recognition with dignity as envisaged under Article 54 of the Constitution of Kenya, more should be done for their increased representations across the governance spectrum and more so in Parliament. He noted that Article 100 of the Constitution of Kenya had been selectively interpreted yet it provides for enactment of legislation for the promotion of all marginalized groups alike, and not just women and youth.

 “Let the same vigour applied for the enforcement of Articles 27 and 54 with regards to the rights of the people living with disability be employed to ensure their representation in decision making, more so in Parliament is enhanced. Let us champion for this right as we have done on fair gender representation", observed Speaker Muturi.

Underscoring his passion for the cause of people with disability, Speaker Muturi revealed that he was himself at young age brought up by a care-giver (a relative), who was physically challenged.

Speaker after Speaker during the session noted that there is need to improve the provisions of the existing Disability Act, in a bid to align it with the realities of the current Constitution. The caucus Members urged the Speaker in his capacity as the chairperson of the Parliamentary Service Commission to facilitate the mainstreaming of disability issues within Parliament as this would set a good precedence across the governance spectrum. They further raised concerns in regards to the accessibility of people with disability around parliament and hoped that the Parliamentary Tower currently under construction, will be have a provision for their easy access.

Nominated MP, Hon. Dennitah Ghati called on the media who were present, to be at the forefront of highlighting issues regarding people with disability, as well as their successes noting that this would encourage people living with disability to participate in the development of the nation and ultimately in the growth of the economy.

The Chairperson of KEDIPA and Westlands MP, Hon.Timothy Wanyonyi, noted that though Kenya had done a lot in protecting the rights of people living with disability, there is need to anchor their issues in legislation so as to safeguard them. He called for more appointments in public office for people with disability noting that their affairs should no longer be addressed as charitable needs, but as rights guaranteed by the constitution. He noted that the caucus Members in the National Assembly could use their influence to espouse for more budgetary allocation to the Council for persons with Disabilities and advocate for measures to promote programs for people with disability. He further called for tax rebates for companies who employ people with disability so as to encourage more companies to embrace a workforce that is inclusive.

 Addressing the forum, the Chief Administrative Secretary in the Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare Hon. Abdul Buhari, who represented the Cabinet Secretary, noted that his ministry had developed a national disability strategy and was working with the National Council for Persons with Disability to know the actual demographics of citizens with disability in Kenya.

He was responding to calls by Members for inclusion of a specific query on the number of people with disability in all households in Kenya, in the forth coming National Census slated for August, 2019.

Founder KEDIPA Chair, Nominated Senator, Isaac Mwaura also reiterated the call for more resources towards supporting program for people with disability, and urged for Parliament's support towards the establishment of a fully-fledged secretariat for KEDIPA.

The Speaker earlier on had acknowledged that Parliament recognizes the existence of the forum, but challenged the caucus to instigate a change in the Standing Orders to change the provision that requires a caucus to have at least 10 members for its establishment. Currently, KEDIPA has a membership of 8, which the Speaker noted though understandable is not covered with the current Standing Orders.

Others present at the 2-day forum are nominated MP, Hon. David Ole Sankok, Kajiado Woman Representative, Janet Teiyaa, the Deputy Clerk in the National Assembly, Ms. Sarah Kioko, officials from the  Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare and as well as the Director, National Council for Persons with Disabilities.

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