Disability rights campaign

The campaign is advocating for the meaningful inclusion of people with disabilities into government services and the passing of Disability rights Legislation by the government of Lesotho. In this initiative, the organisation successfully advocated for the ratification of the UN Convention on the rights of people with disabilities. Hence, the government of Lesotho is in the process of protecting the rights of people with disabilities through the enactment of the Disability Rights Legislation.
Deaf people are now able to access the national news on Lesotho Television, on an equal basis with others. This was due to the campaign, which compelled the government to install Sign Language Interpreters for Television.
Deaf students are now able to attend an inclusive school, where Sign Language Interpreters are interpreting for the Deaf in the normal classroom situation.

These are very huge milestones achieved by this organisation since it is very difficult to convince the government.

CAMPAIGN OBJECTIVES

To promote the rights of people with disabilities. The objective is to advocate for the domestication of the UN Convention on the rights of persons with disabilities through the enactment of Disability rights Legislation. The draft bill of the law has been completed and ready to be presented before Parliament. The Law will reduce the discrimination and stigma attached to people with disabilities. The other objective is to raise awareness about the need to include people with disabilities in the general education system without creating special education. Deaf and blind children are now able to attend the same class with able-bodied children who have no difficulties because the equipment to assist the disabled is available.

HOW THE OBJECTIVES WERE ACHIEVED

LNFOD launched robust advocacy for the inclusion of people with disabilities by holding lobbying meetings with the government, and other civil society organisations for support. There was high-level interaction between the government of Lesotho and LNFOD on how the human rights of people with disabilities can be protected.

There was also financial support from the development partners on the advocacy conducted by LNFOD. LNFOD had several meetings with the portfolio committees with parliament, informing them of the need to ratify the UN Convention on the rights of persons with disabilities and to domesticate it through an act of Parliament so that people with disabilities may be visible in society.

CAMPAIGN INNOVATIONS

The campaign was initiated by the organisation after having conducted research which indicated that persons with disabilities experienced serious inequalities in terms of access to education, job opportunities, healthcare services and other basic social services, to mention a few.

LNFOD decided to create a programme on advocacy meant to change the situation of persons with disabilities and ask the government to promote and protect the rights of people with disabilities through the enactment of the Disability rights legislation, domesticating the UN Convention on the rights of persons with disabilities.

LNFOD came up with a proposal indicating how it was to be implemented and shared it with development partners to gain finances needed.

CAMPAIGN IMPACT

The government of Lesotho has employed Sign Language Interpreters at Lesotho Television. Hence, the Deaf access national news on an equal basis with others.

Secondly, deaf students attend the inclusive school at Mount Royal primary and high school. The government of Lesotho has ratified the UN Convention on the rights of people with disabilities and it is now in the process of presenting the disability rights legislation to Parliament.

The disability rights awareness campaigns have been conducted to change the attitudes of society towards people with disabilities. Children with disabilities are now admitted in schools where they were not admitted before.

The government of Lesotho is now consulting people with disabilities when taking decisions affecting their lives and when developing law and policy to ensure inclusion of people with disabilities; for example, the National Disability Mainstreaming plan in 2015 and the National development plan in 2012.

CHALLENGES FACED

Potical will from the government to implement the disability related policies. Lack of disability rights awareness among the government officials often hinder the speedy progress toward the promotion and protection of disability rights.
It is also difficult to operate as an NGO dealing with the government in Lesotho because of the hard environment within the government systems. It is not easy to change the government systems to be inclusive of people with disabilities because they are exclusive by design.
Funding: funding remains the big challenge to implement programs such as this because they demand a lot of money as change is hard to happen.
Attitudes facing people with disabilities makes itb hard to influence their inclusion in society.

LESSONS LEARNT

Cooperation and partnership between government and civil society can yield the desired results. If a civil society organisation is working with the government to achieve a common goal for the benefit of marginalised groups, then it creates a win-win situation in which the government becomes a victor in the protection of human rights, whilst LNFOD remains a strong advocate for the rights of people with disabilities.