Professor Ransford Gyampo of the Department of Political Science, University of Ghana, has urged government, Development Partners and other key stakeholders in Ghana’s quest to deepen democracy and development, to put in place more actionable policies to deepen access to justice and inclusivity, particularly among young people and persons with disability.
Speaking at a Stakeholders meeting convened by the Youth Bridge Foundation (YBF) to provide update on an Open Society Initiative for West Africa (OSIWA) funded project aimed at ensuring access to justice by the youth and persons with disabilities on Tuesday, May 14, 2019 at the MJ Grand Hotel in Accra, Prof Gyampo noted that it is not enough to spell out policy blueprints on access to justice and inclusivity.
In his view, government and all stakeholders must demonstrate commitment by implementing concrete actions aimed at achieving the ideals of Goal 16 of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) which borders on inclusivity and access to justice.
He commended the YBF for its pioneering role in carrying out several activities aimed at promoting access to justice. In particular, he was impressed with the sensitization drive to educate people with disabilities on the Government’s Child and Family Welfare Policy (2015) and the converting of same to braille for the use of people who are visually impaired.
He applauded the 13-episode PUZZLED drama series that brought to the fore, the challenges confronted by people with disabilities and the need for urgent action to address them.
He was also impressed by the YBF effort to send people with hearing impairment to watch and have parliamentary proceedings interpreted to them. In his view, this has stimulated a national discourse on the need to deepen inclusivity by ensuring that people with disabilities are not abandoned in every facet of life.
He was pleased to note that as a result of the YBF intervention, churches in Ghana are now rethinking the need to interpret sermons and church liturgies in the sign language.
Prof Gyampo appealed to OSIWA to sustain and deepen its efforts and sponsorship to the YBF to enable more project activities to be undertaken to ingrain the need to ensure access to justice by all, particularly the youth and people with disability, in the psyche of all.
Even though some major path-breaking successes have been achieved by the YBF, Prof Gyampo called for a sustained effort as the only means to deal with the injustices and marginalization of young people and people with disability. He, therefore, called on OSIWA not to relent in its support to the YBF as a second project may be required to emphasize and expand the YBF success stories to cover other districts and rural hinterlands of Ghana.
The OSIWA-Funded YBF project, which is the fulcrum around Goal 16 of the SDGs, sought to innovatively translate policy documents into an accessible format for PWDs, improving their capacity to participate in decision-making processes, as well as creating supporting systems for stakeholders who work in the delivery of social protection services including children’s welfare.
It was attended by some 50 participants drawn from students, PWDs, Civil Society representatives, Community and Opinion Leaders, as well as Media practitioners.
According to Prof Gyampo, who is also the Head of the Youth Bridge Research Institute, Goal 16 of the SDGs can be easily achieved if efforts currently being undertaken by the YBF are sustained.
Welcoming participants to the event, Mr Seth Oteng, the Executive Director of YBF, thanked all for their support of activities undertaken by the YBF in implementing the project to ensure access to justice and inclusivity. He noted that though the YBF has made giant strides in its efforts to deal with some of the challenges confronting many PWDs in Ghana, especially in the areas of justice and inclusivity, he and his team of able staff have the zeal, energy, expertise and commitment to do more in the area so as to promote access to justice and inclusivity among a critical mass of young people in Ghana, including PWDs.
While thanking OSIWA, Gender Ministry and all Stakeholders for their support, he called for a deepened collaboration between the YBF and all the stakeholders to move the quest to ensure access to justice forward. He noted the collective responsibility to build an equitable, just and inclusive society and therefore stressed more collaboration and increase support.
Recounting the YBF experiences in executing the project, Ms. Cornelia Opoku Gyemfi, the Project Assistant noted that even though many people in the rural communities were empowered and impressed by the activities carried out, the project was only carried out in only six districts within three regions. She called for more districts to be covered and also highlighted the urgent need to link policies to practice, particularly, when marginalized groups (youth and persons with disability) are concerned.
QUOTES BASED ON SPEAKERS
“Ensuring access to justice requires more implementable and actionable support for deepening commitment and giving meaning to what Youth Bridge Foundation is doing in the areas of access to Justice and inclusivity.” Professor Ransford Gyampo, a Political Science Professor.
“We have a collective responsibility to build an equitable, just and inclusive society. This cannot be postponed.” Mr. Seth Oteng, Executive Director, YBF.
“There is the need to link policies to practice, particularly, when marginalized groups (youth and persons with disability) are concerned.” Ms. Cornelia Opoku Gyemfi, Project Assistant YBF.