Cox: New bill for people with disabilities being drafted

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Minister of Social Development Donna Cox. – File photo

Minister of Social Development and Family Services Donna Cox says a bill to enhance the rights and opportunities of people with disabilities is nearing completion.

She was speaking during a seminar on the sexual and reproductive health of women with disabilities. The seminar emphasised the significance of providing accessible sexual and reproductive health services to individuals with disabilities.

Speaking at the seminar on May 22, Cox said the bill aligned with international standards outlined by the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD).

“The UNCRPD underscores the need for governments to ensure the inclusion and participation of persons with disabilities in all spheres of life, particularly emphasising access to healthcare, including sexual and reproductive health services.”

Cox said the bill was created by a thorough review process and consultations with stakeholders, including 18 government ministries, the Equal Opportunity Commission (EOC), the Law Association of TT (LATT), statutory bodies, non-governmental organisations, and persons with disabilities.

“These recommendations have been meticulously considered by the Ministry’s internal Legislative Review Team, leading to amendments being incorporated into the revised draft bill.”

The amendments address critical areas such as protection from discrimination, access to education, healthcare, housing, and employment and the establishment of the TT Council for Persons with Disabilities.

The bill focuses on promoting social inclusion and equal opportunities, aiming to create an environment that fosters accessibility, integration and full participation of persons with disabilities.

Cox highlighted the particular challenges faced by women with disabilities, including physical and communication barriers and the risk of sexual exploitation and abuse.

“It is observed that some women with disabilities encounter numerous challenges that heighten the risks of sexual exploitation, assault or abuse throughout their lives.”

She said she attended the Commission on Social Development at the UN Headquarters in February and reaffirmed TT’s commitment to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), particularly those focused on disability rights and universal access to sexual and reproductive health services by 2030.

“It is our desire to fulfil the targets of the SDGs. We advocate for inclusivity by striving for a world where ‘no one is left behind.

“The bill will undergo the requisite legislative drafting process, then submitted to the Legislative Review Committee of the Cabinet and forwarded for the approval of the Cabinet.”