vspd-launches-ground-breaking-film-and-song-on-disability-access-in-elections

The Vanuatu Society for People with Disability (VSPD) had launched their first-ever “Accessibility in Elections” Film and Song- composed and sang by Metoxide- yesterday in Port Vila, aiming to shed light on the challenges faced by persons with disabilities during elections.

As part of the Gender Inclusion Program initiated by the Vanuatu Electoral Environment project (VEEP), supported by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), the initiative provided a platform for individuals with disabilities to share their experiences. These experiences highlighted the difficulties encountered in accessing polling stations during past elections.

Anne Sofie Gerhard, Chief Technical Advisor of UNDP’s VEEP, acknowledged the importance of political inclusion for all individuals, regardless of their physical, psychosocial, or intellectual abilities.

Gerhard emphasised that the political inclusion of persons with disabilities is crucial for a thriving democracy.

“In Vanuatu, individuals with disabilities are present but often not visible in our society. This invisibility leads to challenges in their electoral participation and access to essential services,” Gerhard said.

She said every person has the right to equal participation in political affairs, in line with UN principles and UNDP objectives. She stressed the need to ensure that all individuals, especially those facing discrimination or exclusion, have equal access and participation in political life.

With elections approaching in Vanuatu, including the SANMA Provincial Election, By-Election on Ambrym, and a Referendum on May 29, the initiative is timely. The launch of the film and song aims to bolster efforts to ensure that every vote counts and that no one is left behind in the electoral process.

Albert Nalpini, National Human Rights Coordinator under the Ministry of Justice and Community Services (MoJCS), commended Vanuatu’s commitment to inclusivity. He highlighted Vanuatu’s status as one of the first countries in the Pacific region to ratify the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD).

Looking ahead, the VSPD expressed its hope for improved accessibility to polling stations and increased participation in politics for persons with disabilities.

Guilain Malessas, Principal Electoral Officer (PEO) of the Vanuatu Electoral Office (VEO), reflected on past shortcomings and pledged to work towards a more inclusive electoral process.

According to him, efforts are underway to ensure that everyone, including persons with disabilities, can fully participate in the electoral process and access government services.

With elections approaching in Vanuatu, including the SANMA Provincial Election, By-Election on Ambrym, and a Referendum on May 29, the initiative is timely. The launch of the film and song aims to bolster efforts to ensure that every vote counts and that no one is left behind in the electoral process.

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SOURCE: VANUATU DAILY POST