SPEECH BY HIS EXCELLENCY PROF. ARTHUR PETER MUTHARIKA,PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC OF MALAWI DURING THE COMMEMORATION OF THE INTERNATIONAL DAY FOR PERSONS WITH DISABILITIES AT LUCHENZA COMMUNITY CENTRE GROUND IN THYOLO
SATURDAY, 3rd DECEMBER, 2016
We have gathered here today to commemorate the International Day for Persons with Disabilities. Our theme is “Achieving all the 17 goals for the future we want”.
Thiscommemoration provides us all the opportunity to reflect on the roles we play in the lives of persons with disabilities. We must reflect on what we do in promoting their full participation and inclusion in the development of this country.
Persons with disabilities are citizens who often work in their lives and national development. But very often, their efforts, achievements and impact go unnoticed. Everyone likes to be appreciated. We must celebrate persons with disabilities.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
On16thDecember 1992, the United Nations General Assembly adopted the 3rd of December every year as the International Day of persons with disabilities. This is theday was set aside to celebrate the abilities of people with disabilities all over the world.
Here then is our opportunity to increase awareness and understanding of disability issues. This is our day to celebratethat persons with disabilities are active participants in development. This is the day we commit to promote the rights of persons with disabilities.
Let me tell you a personal story. I was born in a family where we had a sister who had a disability. My elder sister could not walk. In those days, if you had a disability, you were seriously marginalised. Some people in my village kept whispering that my parents had done something wrong to bear a girl who could not walk. My brother and I, Bingu and I, kept fighting boys who kept teasing us for having with a disability. I know what it means to grow up with disability.
And as some of you, I have a grandson who has autism. Some of you have seen him. He can’t talk, and he will never talk. When I meet him, sometimes it takes him a week to remember me. So, I know what means to live with disability.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Our theme reminds usthat our Sustainable Development Goals must include everyone. I and my Government commit to include persons with disabilities in all pursuits of development.
Therefore, I will not tolerate the behavior of hiding someone with disability in the house nor the atrocities against persons with Albinism. The law will take its course.
As long as I lead this country, I will ensure that persons with disabilities deserve a decent, dignified and rewarding life. There shall be no time or place for discrimination against persons with disabilities. We commit to implement the Disability Act and its Policy with the best of our intentions and efforts.
The Reforms of the Ministry of Gender, Children, Disability and Social Welfare and MACOHA drive us towards becoming a fully-fledged inclusive society.
Not long ago, I directed the Minister of Gender to inspect the various establishments for their accessibility and friendliness to persons with disabilities. Additionally the Malawi Bureau of Standards is being directed to finalise the standards which the Ministry submitted to facilitate persons with disabilities to various facilities.
Furthermore, let me encourage every Malawian to join me in supporting our children, sisters, brothers, parents and grandparents with disabilities.
Let me also encourage the Federation of Disability Organisations in Malawi (FEDOMA) to continue sensitizing the public in collaboration with My Government in order to achieve the aspirations. We will always support you on every mile of your crusade.
To you our young friends with disabilities, I urge you to pursueyour education. Education will empower you. Education is your social ladder to the top of your dreams. Education is your right. We will do our best to meet your needs.
Therefore, let me require the District Councils to ensure that they have comprehensive data on the needs of the persons with disabilities in their area. This must facilitate our support for persons with disabilities, including school girls and boys.
Let us move as one Malawi, one destiny and one inclusive society.
And I nowdeclare the Day for Persons with Disabilitiesofficially inaugurated.
Thank You For Your Attention
May God Bless Us All
And God Bless Our Country