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3 December: the peak of influencing in Mali!

The caravan of people with disabilities continues

Written by: Sitan Coulibaly, Linking, Learning and Communication Officer for Voice, Oxfam in Mali.

After mobilising parliamentarians in September 2019 through a guided tour of the special institutes for inclusive education, on the occasion of the UN day for the rights of persons with disabilities. people with disabilities just knocked on the door of the ombudsman of the Republic of Mali!

The International Day of Persons with Disabilities is celebrated annually on December 3. It aims to promote the rights and well-being of people with disabilities in all spheres of society and development and to raise awareness of their particular situation in all aspects of political, social, economic and cultural life.

The celebration of this year was marked by a strong mobilisation of rightsholders to make their voices heard through an inclusive caravan showcasing all types of disability and their allies in four regions of Mali and the district of Bamako (Kayes, Koulikoro , Sikasso and Ségou).

The first of its kind, the caravan aimed to advocate for the rapid implementation of the decree implementing Law No. 027 – 2018 of June 12, 2018 relating to the rights of people with disabilities by 2020.

The caravan criss-crossed the city of Bamako to celebrate the day with the public and decision-makers. They carried strong messages on disability such as:

  • People with disabilities have the right to education
  • Being disabled does not mean being a beggar
  • We disabled people can work like able-bodied people
  • We want accessibility within basic social services
  • We want the decree implementing the law on the rights of people with disabilities

These are the words that led the beautiful caravan to the ombudsman to deliver their message so that he could make a plea to the President of Mali for obtaining the implementing decree. The Ombudsman is an institution created by law as an independent authority intervening in the settlement of disputes between the administration and the citizens relating to the execution of its public services.

Mrs. Katioucha Coulibaly , one of the representatives of the rightsholders through a poetic inquiry addressed the mediator for the acceleration of the application decree. It was a special moment of advocacy and lobbying to voice their concern.

A few lines from the poem

We are people with disabilities
And we just need another method to live like others if not better
Our handicap is not a fatality
Our handicap is not a deficiency of heart,
Our handicap n is not a deficiency of the soul. On the
other hand those who do not know how to love,
Those who do not know how to give,
Those who do not know how to support,
Those who do not know how to offer love
These are THE deficiencies of our humanity.

“We have to make sure that dignity is restored to everyone. And here at the office of the ombudsman we have already hired two disabled women to restore their dignity. Just to tell you that I assure you that at the level of my service I will do what is necessary to assist you in obtaining the application decree. And I will do my best to deliver your document by hand to the President of the Republic of Mali “

Baba Akhib Haidara Malian national ombudsman

Whether in Bamako or in the four regions, the rightsholders spoke out loud for the rapid obtaining of the decree implementing the law. At the regional level, the governors have vouched for following up with them on the adoption of the decree.

AMPA Mali and UMAV – two other partners of Voice – did not stay on the sidelines of the celebration of this day, they organised an activity to strengthen the links between the visually impaired and people with albinism. A panel discussion was held on the theme: the challenges of the participation of people with disabilities in public life: obstacles and solutions. 

The celebration of the International Day of Persons with Disabilities ended with offering sunscreen to a few children with albinism.

It should be noted that the theme chosen for this year was “Fostering the social participation of people with disabilities and their power to act: one step at a time!”.  The role and participation of people with disabilities in inclusive, equitable and sustainable development was emphasised as provided for in the 2030 SDGs “by, for and with people with disabilities”.


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