General News of Friday, 31 January 2020
Persons with disabilities (PWD’s) constitute a significant section of Ghana’s population who are faced with a lot of challenges in meeting their basic needs as a result of limited access and opportunities to government interventions as well as benefiting from public goods and services.
This is a cross cutting issue in all sectors of our economy for such persons and the media has a key role to play in making all voices count especially that of PWDs in all aspects of the Ghanaian governance process.
The promulgation of PWD policies by successive governments has had little impact on the lives of PWDs in the country particularly on their relationship with the media in highlighting their needs and including them in the decision making process.
For evidence, the Persons with Disability Act does not say anything about how the media should relate to the PWDs or the nature of reportage on issues of disability in Ghana. Section 7.5 of the National Media Policy is not explicit in its mandate to the media “to take cognizance of the vulnerability of children and promote the dignity of women as well as persons with disability in various ways”.
Additionally, most media reportage makes use of inappropriate terms in reference to PWDs and their issues, which are unacceptable in this era of right-based approach to reporting.
Studies have also indicated that media houses concur to the fact that disability issues do not get adequate coverage.
This offers both an opportunity as well as a challenge. It is also a challenge that majority of the media personnel are stuck in the ‘Charity Model’ of reporting since they would present PWDs as people who need assistance.
For this reason, Penplusbytes, to achieve a key project objective of improved media skills in reporting gender equality and social inclusion (GESI) issues, is engaging news editors and senior journalists from media houses from the Northern sector of Ghana including Ashanti, Bono and Northern regions of the country at an Editors Liaison Meeting on 30th January, 2020 in Sunyani.
The editors are the gatekeepers in the newsroom and the liaison meeting is aimed at keeping the editors abreast with issues affecting vulnerable groups in the country and help to reinforce the need to assign airtime and space in their various media for such content.
It is also a means to ensure that alumni from our previous trainings under this same project are given the necessary support in their newsrooms to undertake in-depth and investigative pieces on GESI to inform and educate stakeholders including policy makers.
Commenting on the Editor’s Liaison, Ms Juliet Amoah, the Executive Director of Penplusbytes said: “This editors liaison comes at an opportune time where political parties are gearing up for election activities and it is important for the media to be oriented about issues affecting PWDs so that their coverage of election activities will be inclusive and promote PWDs needs and set agenda on gender and inclusivity in our body politic.”
Under the STAR Ghana funded “Deliver! – Quality media amplifying vulnerable citizens’ voices” project, Penplusbytes seeks to contribute significantly to addressing challenges that Persons with Disabilities face with regards to access to health, education and economic opportunities and consequently increase the awareness of issues that negatively impact them and other vulnerable groups.
Prior to this meeting, Penplusbytes had engaged editors in the southern sector in both Koforidua and Kumasi last year.
A key outcome of this meeting is to develop a concerted approach at having designated desks in major newsrooms in Ghana for reporting PWD issues.