Supporting Persons with Disabilities: An Interview with Salma Ahmed Ali Geneif

In honor of International Day of Persons with Disabilities (IDPD), LMG interviews Salma Ahmed Ali Geneif from the Republic of Sudan. Mr. Taktook discusses his thoughts on International Day of Persons with Disabilities. Mrs. Geneif is a member of the Sudan delegation who participated in LMG’s Regional Senior Leadership Program, conducted in collaboration with the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and facilitated by Yale University’s Global Health Leadership Initiative. 

Salma Geneif IDPDSalma Ahmed Ali Geneif, Disability Focal Point – Sudan Disarmament, Demobilization & Reintegration (DDR) Commission, Khartoum, Sudan

Mrs. Geneif has served since 2006 as a focal point for Sudan’s Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration (DDR) Commission.  Her role is to ensure Sudan’s ex-combatants with disabilities are reintegrated into civilian life and their communities, and assure their rights are fulfilled and respected. She is a member of the Sudan National Council for Persons with Disabilities. She has successfully facilitated the mainstreaming of the disability rights and services with the other stakeholders (ministries, UN agencies, NGOs, services providers) by agreements and memorandums of understanding for the benefit of ex-combatants with disabilities and disability communities as whole. Mrs. Geneif has organized and participated in many local, regional and international conferences, workshops and seminars on disability, development, human rights, disarmament and capacity building.

LMG: What does “break barriers, open doors to realize an inclusive society for all” mean to you?

Geneif: It means to encourage society to implement the rights of persons with disabilities outlined in the UN Convention and deal with obstacles facing persons with disabilities. We must open up for all. An important part of this is helping all people recognize that they are part of the solution. Everyone has a role to play in ensuring inclusion for all in our own communities and societies.

LMG:  From your perspective, what remaining challenges or obstacles are of highest priority?

Geneif: From my perspective, Sudan has an important opportunity to make a breakthrough in education and success in the education sector would be a catalyst for progress in many other sectors. We hope to have integrated schools with teachers trained to appropriately care for children with disabilities that are accessible to all. It will be challenging, but if we make this our initial focus, it will be great for our country.

LMG: As (the global development agenda heads toward 2015 and beyond) we approach the post-2015 time period, what actions do you recommend for leaders like yourself to take to encourage support for the dignity, rights and well-being of persons with disabilities and to increase awareness of gains to be derived from the integration of persons with disabilities in every aspect of political, social, economic and cultural life?

What actions do you recommend for leaders like yourself to take to get disability included in mainstream development agendas?

Geneif: All government ministries must be engaged to ensure persons with disabilities are mainstreamed, not just those dealing with health, social welfare, or vulnerable populations. Through the national coordination mechanism in Sudan, we will have a seat at the table when each ministry designs its strategies and plans. I think it is important that disability leaders find ways to be included at the decision-making tables in their countries. This should be coupled with a plan for media awareness to continue to bring attention to the issues and encourage demand from the wider population of persons with disabilities.

These leaders participated in LMG’s Regional Senior Leadership Program, conducted in collaboration with the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and facilitated by Yale University’s Global Health Leadership Initiative:

Tanzania: Vincent Kaduma, Disability Programme Officer, ICRC Special Fund for the Disabled (ICRC/SFD)

Sudan: Abo Osama Abdalla Mohamed Taktook, General Secretary, Sudan National Council for Persons with Disabilities

These leaders participated in the Women’s Institute on Leadership and Disability (WILD) program led by Mobility International USA (MIUSA):

Peru: Barbara Ventura, Founding Partner and President of La Asociacion Luchando Contra Viento y Marea (Association for Struggling Against All Odds

Kenya: Lizzie Kiama, Director of Gender and Disability at This-Ability Consulting

To read more about the Regional Senior Leadership Program, click here.

To read more about LMG’s work empowering disability leaders and strengthening services for persons with disabilities, click here.