Pelgrina and Eben call for an inclusive and accessible world
Disability is part of the human experience and more and more countries are now recognizing the importance of including disability as a cross cutting issue.
In Namibia, persons with disabilities amount to five percent of the population which is roughly about 120 000 persons out of population of 2.4 million. Disability is part of the human experience and more and more countries are now recognizing the importance of including disability as a cross cutting issue in policies, programmes and services.
Namibia is no exception and is providing an environment to support persons living with disabilities through national frameworks and cooperation agreements. In support of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) the United Nations (UN) recognizes that a world where all people attain the highest possible standard of health and well-being is only possible if health systems are inclusive of people with disability.
UN Namibia provides technical and financial support to improve knowledge gaps about disability, supporting the creation of enabling environments and efforts to overcome stigma and discrimination and enhance the active participation of persons with disabilities in the development agenda.
“An inclusive world is an accessible world,” says Pelgrina Ndumba,
a United Nations Volunteer(UNV) colleague who navigates her way to and from the UN House in Windhoek, Namibia on a daily basis. In a short video, Pelgrina demonstrates a day in her world as a visually impaired professional working for the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). She is very familiar in finding her way to her office and back but has not explored the rest of the UN House. Making the entire UN compound more accessible will go a long way in ensuring that Pelgrina can fully participate in work activities and events.
Eben Ripunda, Chairperson of Namibian Wheelchair Users visits the UN often for meetings. The nature of his work with the UN aims to promote the rights and well-being of persons with disabilities in all spheres of society and development, and to increase awareness of the situation of persons with disabilities in every aspect of political, social, economic and cultural life.
Navigating his way around the UN house in a wheelchair is not always easy, but Eben knows how to find his way around obstacles and can seamlessly access various parts of the compound on his own. During his video reflection, he highlights how narrow doorways, stairs and restrooms facilities could be obstacles and how making even small changes can improve access to persons with disabilities.
Pelgrina and Eben’s life is not defined by their disability. Telling their stories is a reminder to all of us that we have a role to play in enabling their rights, at the office and all spheres of life.
The COVID-19 pandemic provides a unique opportunity to build back better our health systems so that they are more inclusive and responsive to the needs and human rights of people experiencing disability in all their diversity. So, in the future Pelgrina’s and Eben’s can navigate the UN with ease and enjoy full access and a full life.