The Norwegian Association of Disabled (NAD)- Zambian office organised a two -day meeting for youth with disabilities from 28th -29th September 2021,at Cresta Golf view Hotel in Lusaka. The land mark meeting was attended by 30 youth representatives drawn from youth wings of various organisations in Lusaka. The aims of the meeting were two fold ,firstly to build the knowledge of participants on issues of disability and inclusion and secondly to explore practical methods of building consensus and coalitions around specific issues of inclusion in Lusaka and beyond.
The participants brought to the fore the existing barriers that prevented youths with disabilities from meaningfully participating in various social activities and programmes and also benefiting from available public services.
The meeting concluded with a call by the youths for all stakeholders to take part in ensuring that inclusion is a reality in Zambia. They mentioned that despite the country making remarkable strides in inclusive development, a number of barriers such as ;marginalisation, discrimination and negative attitudes towards persons with disabilities are prevalent and need addressing in a focussed and sustained manner. Sensitisation of rights holders on their rights and duty bearers on their obligations, remain a key aspect of creating an inclusive society for all.
” Unfortunately when we get into entrepreneurship activities ,people do not support us they shun buying from us, some think that we put something in the items will sell, to make other people disabled” lamented one youth representative.
The youths unanimously agreed to follow the next steps as follows:
- Serious steps must be taken towards forming a youth coalition which should include a number of stakeholders including key government representatives
- To organise public dialogue meetings involving OPDs ,CSOs and other stakeholders
- Issue a press statement on international Day of People with Disabilities (IDPD)to address specific issues burdening youths in Zambia
- Sensitisation on the Disability Act of coalition members themselves
- Form a Youth Coalition WhatsApp group for further communication