Ghana has made significant strides towards putting the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD) into action.
Disability rights in the country are also protected by the Persons with Disability Act, 2006 (Act 715) of Ghana. But it is often observed that people with disabilities and other excluded groups are not given equal opportunities to participate in the electoral process.
In December 2020, Ghanaians went to the polls to elect a president and parliamentarians. The Ghana Federation of Disability Organisations (GFD) took the opportunity to send 150 observers to gather evidence about the inclusion of people with disabilities – something that had not previously been possible. Although the GFD has been working for years to ensure more inclusive and accessible electoral processes, financial constraints have meant it could not monitor the elections on the statistically significant scale needed to persuade the Electoral Commission to take remedial action.
Support came from Ghana Somubi Dwumadie, a four-year disability programme in Ghana with a specific focus on mental health. The programme, funded with UK aid from the UK government, is a five-member consortium of which Sightsavers is a partner. Funding provided by the programme allowed for the observers’ activity to be conducted on election day, and this led to some key recommendations, including that advocacy and lobbying in the years running up to an election must be regular activities, not one-offs; that people with disabilities must be appointed as electoral officers where possible; and that budgets should allow for the creation and dissemination of accessible voting materials and information.
There are significant accessibility considerations for the Electoral Commission to address in order to secure the full enjoyment of the rights of people with disabilities in Ghana to participate in political processes. The GFD report gives clear guidance on what needs to happen for the country’s commitments under the CRPD to be met for electoral processes. The next election is in 2024: will we be ready?
Read the full report (PDF)