The World Bank says South Africa's white paper on the rights of people with disabilities is a comprehensive and solid document.
World Bank group global disability advisor Charlotte McClain-Nhlapo shared her expertise on implementing policies on disability during this week’s National Disability Rights Summit in Johannesburg.
McClain-Nhlapo, who has a background in human rights law and is based in Washington in the United States, said her role within the World Bank "is to be up to date on what is happening within the world’s disability sector".
She has extensive knowledge about disability, disability rights, and the law, and provides advice and insights around these issues.
Speaking to African News Agency during the summit, she said she was happy to see that the delegates attending the summit consisted of "a very diverse group of people, which is very important".
McClain-Nhlapo participated in discussions on inclusive cities and strengthening disability equity, and said she believed South
Africa’s white paper on the rights of people with disabilities was a comprehensive, solid document.
"I think the white paper has a lot in it that is good. However, right now it is just a paper. It needs to be a real life document with an investment in changing people’s lives for the better," she said.
Well-acquainted with the process of seeing polices being implemented step-by-step, a process that she said could take up to 15 years from baseline, McClain-Nhlapo said there was much that needed to be done in South Africa to see the white paper become reality.
"Acknowledging that bringing about change did not happen overnight, she said “the real test of the summit lies in how the white paper is going to become operational in real life".
"I want to be able to say in five years’ time that this white paper has changed people’s lives for the better. My vision is that we have a greater number of people who understand how to include persons with disabilities."
She said inclusive cities and societies could be achieved when people asked why it was important to include people with disabilities and asked themselves how this could be achieved.
It was through this process, involving a change of attitude and thinking around how disability was perceived, that change would begin to happen, McClain-Nhlapo said.
Her message to people with disabilities was, "Be knowledgeable and aware of your rights and be bold enough to hold your government accountable."