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MPs with disabilities want Commonwealth Parliamentary Association Constitution amended

Executive Committee of Commonwealth Parliamentary Association. PHOTO via @Parliament_Ug

Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Female Members of Parliament with disabilities are seeking for the amendment of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (CPA) Constitution to institute an organ for addressing welfare of parliamentarians with disabilities.

This was during a session by Commonwealth Women Parliamentarians (CWP) Conference chaired by Nakaseke South MP Syda Bbumba under the theme “Empowerment of Women as Effective Legislators in the 21st Century”.

Their reactions followed presentation made by Speaker of Parliament Rebecca Kadaga, Malaysia MP Alice Lau Kiong Yieng, the CPA UK Branch Deputy Chief Executive Helen Haywood and Pakistan’s MP Dr Aisha Ghaus Pasha.

From their presentations, the CWP Conference adopted four resolutions including training, induction and capacity building for female legislators to make them ready for leadership positions, investing continuously and strategically focusing on mentoring women legislators to enable them ensure social, political, economic and legal empowerment of all women and others.

The other resolutions were empowering women as effective legislators including those from minority groups and ensure political environments are free from gender-based discrimination for democratic governance and taking opportunities to increase knowledge and skills in performance of parliamentary duties.

However, following the adoption of the resolutions, a section of MPs from Kenya, South Africa and Uganda demanded for a more firm action to enable their work in parliament.

Safia Nalule Juuko, Uganda’s National MP for Persons with Disabilities demanded for the establishment of a Commonwealth Parliamentarians with Disabilities Network which was recommended earlier in 2017 during the Nova Scotia, Canada Conference.

She said that if established, the Network will provide better outreach, promotion and research for increasing the representation of Persons with Disabilities (PWDs) in Commonwealth Parliaments.

Nalule further said that once in place, the network should support national governments to undertake surveys to get accurate information on PWDs to enable effective decision-making, planning and budgeting for PWDs.

“The Parliaments in Commonwealth countries should ensure adequate budgeting for disability and gender related needs using the Uganda model of the requirement for a certificate of gender and equity budgeting. There should be affirmative action in all budget allocation to disability needs across all sectors,” said Nalule.

She added that CPA together with the Network should, using the gender and equity model, support the advocacy for an equalization fund to Parliamentarians with disabilities to enable them effectively participate in all legislative processes.

Dennitah Ghati, the PWDs representative in the National Assembly of Kenyan demanded for the amendment of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (CPA) Constitution to institute an organ for persons with disabilities in order to address their welfare.

She said that article 15 (2) of the CPA- Africa Region Constitution allows constitution of new organs hence a need for the amendment to have a provision for the Commonwealth Parliamentarians with Disabilities Network- Africa.

Dennitah cited a need for the network to have its own corresponding steering committee and have its funding expenditure factored into the region’s annual budget.

Helen Sauls August, a member of South Africa’s Eastern Cape Provincial Legislature said that it was clear in their plenary discussions that the issue of the disability sector needs to be captured in the Conference resolutions.

She argued that the matter has previously been discussed by the Commonwealth Africa Region and that it was time to establish a special network for disabilities under the Commonwealth.

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