UDPK PRESS STATEMENT ON RELENTLESS ATTACKS ON HON SEN MWAURA BASED ON HIS DISABILITY.
This statement is made on behalf of the United Disabled Persons of Kenya (UDPK).
UDPK is the umbrella federation of Disabled Persons Organizations in Kenya. Our mandate is to advocate for the rights of persons with disabilities, promoting their equal access to opportunities and active participation to mainstream development processes. We are a membership organization of over 200 Disabled Persons Organization (DPOs) and speak with and on behalf of all members of these DPOs. We are not affiliated to any political party and our advocacy is centered on laws that govern participation of persons with disabilities in political and public life on an equal basis with others. Historically, many persons with disabilities have been excluded from exercising their human rights, including the right to political participation. The barriers to participation are numerous and the issue we want to address presently, are the blatant attacks on Hon Sen Mwaura on the basis of his disability. Sen Mwaura has been actively engaged in the disability movement for years now, exhibiting leadership and working in diverse ways to ensure the inclusion of persons with disabilities in our societies. We remain cognizant of the fact that for disadvantaged and marginalized groups such as persons with disabilities, being at the decision making table is one of the better ways to ensure that our voices are heard. Therefore, for persons with disabilities in Kenya, having leaders in political processes has indeed been among the ways that the needs of persons with disabilities have been captured in national discourse. Hon Sen Mwaura among many other elected and nominated leaders keep pushing and amplifying our voices and because of that, there are many gains that we have seen, as the sector. These gains are many, we are just going to list a few:
Secured and helped establish the National Albinism Sunscreen and support program that benefits over 3,000 persons with albinism who receive free sunscreen every month across the country.
Securing employment to hundreds of persons with disabilities both in public and private sectors as well as appointment of several persons with disabilities to constitutional offices
Sponsoring bills in the Senate including the Persons with Disabilities Act, Political Parties Primaries Bill amongst others.
National Youth Service(NYS)Inclusion of youth with disabilities in the paramilitary training
Pushing for persons with disabilities issues to be included in the BBI bill e.g securing the guaranteed representation of persons with disabilities in the National Assembly
Creating awareness on disability issues within parliament and beyond. Starting the Kenya Disability Parliamentary Association (KEDIPA)
Fully presiding over the Senate and Kenyan parliament in Kiswahili and the first person with disability to be a member of the speaker’s panel
Supporting to ensure that all disabled students who attain a minimum of C plus are fully catered as government sponsored students.
Removal of statutory fees on youth seeking employment by HELB, KRA, CRB and others. This has been great barrier to their employment
For the disability movement, therefore, it would be unwise to stand aside and watch a leader that we respect being discounted without acknowledging the milestones that together with others, they have made.
We have continued to record slander on the person of Hon Isaac Mwaura on the basis of his disability by political leaders. We want to call out this extremely dangerous trend which is slowly killing the gains that as the movement we have made towards the recognition and promotion of rights of persons with disabilities within political participation and public life.
We note the numerous instances where to disparage his character, political party leaders are questioning Hon Sen Mwaura’s disability. We cannot repeat the utterly sad statements that have come from leaders of these political parties. We are even left to wonder what they mean when they state that they will revisit the definition of who a person with disabilities is. This is in blatant ignorance of existing national and international laws and conventions that Kenya is party to; which have clearly defined who a person with disability is.
The Convention on the Rights of Persons with disabilities notes that disability is an evolving concept and disability arises when a person with an impairment interacts with environmental barriers that restrict his or her participation on an equal basis as others.
We remain cognizant of the barriers that people with impairments including albinism face. We are rife to the human rights violations that people with albinism and indeed people with disabilities face. We remain cognizant of the fact that unless this is a whole society approach, to calling out disability discrimination, then persons with disabilities will continue to remain at the margins. They will not aspire for positions such as what Hon Sen Mwaura and others have achieved, if they know
that all their achievements will be reduced to questions on their impairment, and disparaging remarks as to their impairments, totally negating their talents, achievements and potential.
We must respect not only the contributions of Hon Sen Isaac Mwaura, but all the contributions made by our leaders with disabilities in political life.
We listened in disbelief when one of the speakers in the live TV show said that Hon Sen Mwaura needs sympathy and empathy. We all do, everyone needs sympathy and empathy in their lives, but it is extremely damaging and harmful when leaders of political parties connect ‘sympathy and empathy’ to Hon Sen Mwaura by virtue of his being a person with disability.
Since many years, people with disabilities have been viewed as objects for charity and public sympathy. This does not take into consideration their talents, potential and dignity as people. The Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities that Kenya is party to, recognizes all persons with disabilities as subjects with rights. Not objects of pity.
Hon Sen Isaac Mwaura continues to shine bright among Kenyan leaders with disabilities. As a country we cannot erase all of Sen Mwaura’s achievements to such basic arguments of whether a pigment in the skin is a disability or not. We cannot ignore all the contributions that Sen Mwaura and other leaders with disabilities have made to people with disabilities in the country and society in general.
We must be wary of this thread of disparaging remarks from political party leaders who are hell-bent on taking Kenya back to an era that persons with disabilities were totally non-existent in political processes because of such blatant striping of persons with disabilities of their dignity. We must guard the gains we have made in disability inclusion jealously.
We call upon all our friends in the social justice movement to amplify this voice with us. To stand by us. Because when one of us is threatened, all of us are.
For further information please contact:
Phone number: +254722126197