The first ever Mr & Miss Ability Uganda has been launched to empower people living with disabilities (special needs).
Themed “Empowering Unique Abilities,” the launch was presided over by Hon Hellen Grace Asamo, the Minister of State for Disability Affairs on Tuesday in Kampala.
She noted that Uganda is among the few countries in Africa after Ivory Coast, Kenya, and a few others to come up with this confidence-building initiative as an empowerment model for Persons with Disabilities (PWDs).
“According to the Uganda Bureau of Statistics, the percentage of persons with disabilities is 12.4 % of the entire population of Uganda. This is a big percentage of our population that needs to be prioritized in all spheres including our socio-cultural development agenda,” she said.
Hon Asamo further said that the initiative will give a platform to unique youths from 18 to 32 years across the country to showcase their abilities.
“This initiative is in line with the Government of Uganda’s legal and policy provisions that ensure the promotion of the rights and freedoms of persons with disabilities; specifically article 21(1) and 21(2) of the constitution.”
Nelson Bugembe, the coordinator of Mr & Miss Ability Uganda noted that building confidence among young PWD starts with the parents.
“This pageant is mainly to bring out our brothers and sisters down there in the village that think that having a disability is not human,” he added.
Saad Ngabo, a peer educator from Reach a Hand Uganda (RHU) noted that sexual reproductive health is one of those key areas that is often left out while empowering young PWDs.
“So we want to see to it that differently abled people are brought close. We want to build a generation that is resilient; a generation that knows what they want, and can make informed choices,” he explained.
Albert Cook Isingoma, Chocolate Safaris remarked that as one of the partners, they are interested in promoting inclusive tourism.
“We are coming up with programs which are targeting these people who are abled differently so that we can create an environment where all people feel welcomed and included; where we can create choice and instill confidence in all people so that they can also be able to get the new experiences,” she said.
Meanwhile, Rose Achayo, Chairperson of Board of Directors, National Union of women with disabilities of Uganda (NUWODU) commended the organizers for the innovation and pledged support to the initiative.