A new forum dedicated to advocating for the rights and well-being of disabled individuals has been officially launched.
During the inauguration of the Parliamentary Forum for Persons With Disabilities on Friday, Alex Ndeezi, the Chairperson of the Forum and Member of Parliament representing People With Disabilities (PWDs) for the Central Region, expressed that the Forum is open to all MPs who share a special interest in promoting social justice.
Ndeezi highlighted that the Forum’s primary objective is to influence legislation, policies, and programs aimed at enhancing the welfare of Persons with Disabilities at all levels of government throughout the country.
Additionally, Judith Peace Achan, the Nwoya District Woman Representative and Vice Chairperson of the forum, disclosed that the Forum has other goals, such as overseeing and monitoring programs and projects related to disability action plans and assessing the effectiveness of service delivery.
Furthermore, one of the Forum’s key objectives is to foster networking among legislators, facilitating resource allocation for programs, and promoting communication, dialogue, and cooperation with organizations that share similar objectives.
The idea for establishing this Forum was initially proposed in 2019 during the 10th Parliament by disability rights activist Safia Juuko Nalule, who was then the Central Region PWDs Representative. Nalule and her colleagues advocated for an amendment to the Commonwealth Parliament Association (CPA) constitution to create a dedicated platform for PWDs.
Uganda’s pursuit of amending the CPA’s constitution was in response to a report by the Equal Opportunities Commission (EOC) in 2018, which highlighted significant inequalities in the delivery of services to PWDs across various government sectors.
At that time, PWDs had voiced concerns about a substantial gap between them and their parliamentary representatives. This gap was primarily attributed to the fact that their representatives are elected through an electoral college process, which suffered from inadequate dissemination of electoral laws and guidelines at both national and local government levels.
A 2016 census report by the Uganda Bureau of Statistics (UBOS) revealed that 12.4% of Uganda’s population lives with some form of disability, indicating that approximately 4.5 million Ugandans are PWDs, underscoring the significance of addressing disability-related concerns.