The participation of persons with disabilities (PWDs) in political and public life is a human right as well as an important factor that promotes social inclusive development. When PWDs participate in political and public life their voice is heard and reflected in policy decisions. Despite the significant numbers of PWDs in Kenya, research suggests that PWDs continue to experience systemic exclusion from mainstream governance and developmental processes. This exclusion has been particularly acute in the areas of political representation in elective and appointed positions, with limited efforts by political parties to provide a conducive environment for PWDs to engage in politics.
To address the persistent gap within Kenya’s political culture led and perpetuated by political parties while strengthening direct engagement between political parties and civil society, WFD with funding from Demo Finland developed the Kenya Inclusive Political Parties (KIPP) Programme whose purpose is to address the critical knowledge gaps within political parties to create and promote more inclusive political discourse, political commitments and public policymaking.
In October 2020, WFD commissioned a new research to better understand the challenges which PWDs in political parties face in their daily lives. The research concludes that the inclusion of PWDs within political parties remains inadequate in Kenya. PWDs are facing systemic exclusion from mainstream governance and developmental processes. This is especially evident in their political representation in elective and appointive positions.
The report indicates that the exclusion of PWDs from participation in political parties can be attributed to social, economic, and political barriers.
Some of the barriers highlighted in the report include.
- Social stigma, stereotypes, discrimination, and negative attitudes towards PWDs.
- The discriminatory high cost of politics in Kenya.
- The low level of understanding of disability amongst decision-makers at all levels.
- The failure of having policies and legislations that fully consider and make provisions for PWDs.
- The overlooking of representation of PWDs in political inclusion agenda.
- The low number of registered voters with disabilities.
- The insufficient funding for PWDs programmes and poor accountability.