VOICE Ghana launches “#We-Matter Project” to promote inclusion of PWDs, people with mental health conditions

An advocacy for the rights of persons with disability (PWDs) Voice of People with Disability Ghana (VOICE Ghana) has launched a project to promote the inclusion of PWDs in the Volta and Oti Regions.

The “#We-Matter Project” sponsored by the Ghana Somubi Dwumadie with a grant of GHS1,650,000 would engage and sensitize stakeholders on their respective roles in creating an enabling environment for PWDs, especially those with mental health conditions. 

The Ghana Somubi Dwumadie is a four-year disability programme in Ghana, with a specific focus on mental health. 

The programme is funded by UK aid from the UK government and is run by an Options’ led consortium, which also consists of BasicNeeds, Ghana, Kings College London, Sightsavers International, and Tropical Health.

Speaking at the launch, the Board Chair of VOICE Ghana, Esther Dogbe, explained that the project seeks to address the continuous stigma and discrimination against people with mental health conditions and psychosocial disabilities, which makes it almost impossible for them to access services and receive community support. 

She indicated that the #We-Matter Project” which would span for thirty-three months would focus on three thematic areas in achieving its objectives. 

Thus “create a positive culture of support in Volta and Oti Regions, to allow people with disabilities, including people with mental health conditions, to reach their full potential.”

“Increase the use of positive disability and mental health language in Volta and Oti Regions, and improve the enforcement of Ghana’s Disability and Mental health policies and laws by duty bearers in the Volta and Oti Regions”, she said. 

VOICE Ghana launches “#We-Matter Project” to promote inclusion of PWDs, people with mental health conditionsChief Executive Director of Voice Ghana, Francis Ashonh in a shot with other participants

Madam Dogbe noted that the Women with Disability and Development Advocacy Organisation (WODAO) in the Volta Region, 10 Self-help Groups of people with mental health conditions and their families, and 10 Self-help Groups of people with disabilities would be the direct beneficiaries of the project. 

She outlined that VOICE Ghana would collaborate with the 20 Self-help Groups towards achieving objectives of the Project where some of the members would be made ambassadors to champion the inclusion advocacy and take on local leadership positions.

She said capacity-building programmes would be organize for key media houses in the two regions on the need to employ the use of “positive non-discriminatory language” and site “positive examples” of PWDs, including people with mental health conditions in their reportage and programmes. 

She added that “we shall organize a regional level roundtable in Volta and Oti Regions for key state agencies responsible for addressing stigma and discriminations for people with disabilities including people with mental health conditions, to discuss and document appropriate ways to implement existing disability laws and policies.”

A component of the “#We-Matter Project” would focus on the engagement of traditional and religious leaders, particularly from the 20 beneficiary communities to “preach on positive perceptions, equality, and experiences of PWDs including people with mental health conditions.”

Madam Dogbe, therefore, entreated sister organizations, the Department of Social Welfare, and other key stakeholders, to support the campaign against stigma and discrimination against people with disabilities and people with mental health conditions.