Mali passes new law to protect the rights of people with disabilities

September 2021
A group of smiling people hold signs that say Equal UN Mali.
Sightsavers Mali and partners in the disability community celebrate the signing of the decree.

After years of work by campaigners, the prime minister of Mali has signed a new social decree into law that will protect the rights of people with disabilities.

This week, Prime Minister Choguel Kokalla Maïga signed the decree of implementation related to the Law of Social Protection and passed it into law. The law promises improvements to the lives of people with disabilities and will make it possible for people to claim their rights.

In response to this week’s commitment, Sightsavers’ country director for Mali, Boubacar Morou Dicko, said: “We welcome the news about the commitment to the rights of people with disabilities decided in a ministerial council by the Mali transitional authorities on 1 September 2021.

“This decree is vital to turning policy wording into action and making real improvements in the lives of people with disabilities in Mali. It is something that our Equal World campaign has been calling for and it’s great to see it realised.”

The new decree covers the correction of current legal deficiencies and will give people with disabilities greater access to employment, education and social benefits. One of these benefits includes better access to public sector jobs. People with disabilities will now be able to apply based solely on their skills and qualifications and without passing the required regular exam. They will also gain equal access to water, sanitation and hygiene services and development programmes and benefits. This will allow the specific requirements of people with disabilities to be considered across the board in various key development sectors.

Sightsavers’ Equal World campaign and the Federation of People with Disabilities of Mali (FEMAPH) have been calling on the government to sign the decree for years. In May 2019, over one thousand people signed a petition calling for the decree to be signed by parliament.

Mr Dicko added: “15.5 per cent of the population of Mali, that’s about 2.2 million people, live with a disability. Many still experience significant inequalities that prevent them from fully enjoying their rights: from weak legal protection to non-accessible health, education and employment, stigma and discrimination and a lack of proper data collection. This new decree is a step in the right direction for ensuring that no one in Mali is left behind.”

Mali has ratified the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. This means it is required to promote and protect the full enjoyment of human rights by people with disabilities and ensure that they experience full equality under the law.

The campaign for the signing of the decree is part of Sightsavers’ Equal World campaign, which works with partners to call for disability rights to be upheld worldwide.

Sightsavers global advocacy adviser Aissata Ndiaye said: “We are incredibly grateful to all our supporters and partners of Equal World for helping to make this happen. It’s great to see the government of Mali listening and taking action to secure the rights of people with disabilities.”

A young girl smiles as she stands in a classroom.

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