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INSETA National Disability Awards a call to action

07 December 2012 INSETA
Frans Meintjies - Business Leader Winner

Frans Meintjies - Business Leader Winner

Michaela Mycroft - Young Persons Winner

Michaela Mycroft - Young Persons Winner

The Insurance Sector Education and Training Authority (INSETA) National Disability Awards, held in White River on 3 December, the International Day of Persons with Disabilities, saw the announcement of winners in seven categories and highlighted the impor

People with disabilities were honoured at the 4th annual National Disability Awards this December where Minister Lulu Xingwana sounded a clarion call for greater representation of this segment of the population in workplaces across the country.

Speaking at the event, Xingwana, the Minister of Women Children and Persons with Disabilities, said that the awards are a huge move towards removing the barriers facing people with disabilities. But, she said that going forward, all members of South African society will need to work together to ensure that we reach President Zuma’s 2013 deadline for a South African workplace of which 2% are people with disabilities - double the current amount.

“Why is it that persons with disabilities rights continue to be violated? We owe it to everyone to ask this question, to ensure whatever treatment is given to people with disabilities is consistent with that given to all members of society,” she said.

The main objective of the annual awards, which are organised by the Insurance Sector Education and Training Authority (INSETA), is to honour and raise the profile of persons with disabilities in all sectors who are making a remarkable difference in the workplace, as well as individuals and organisations supporting the advancement of people with disabilities. Through doing so, the awards hope to help to raise awareness and remove the barriers facing people with disabilities.

INSETA CEO Sandra Dunn has called on the SETAs to take responsibility to ensure that persons with disabilities are given support in getting not just training, but also access to all levels of work experience. She said that companies such as Sanlam, Metropolitan and INDWE Risk, finalists for the National Disability category at the awards, have shown how well internships and learnerships can work in assisting equality in the workforce. “Persons with a disability can add valuable skills and experience to the workplace, but too many companies still don’t have an adequate ratio. The awards help to raise awareness of the potential for the workforce – those honoured at these awards set a shining example of what can be achieved,” she said.

Seven winners were named in various categories on the night.

  1. In the National Disability Company category (for organisations that have created opportunities for people with disabilities), the award went to Netcare;
  2. The National Business Leader award honoured Frans Meintjies for displaying outstanding personal achievement in the workplace;
  3. The Champion Award honoured Airports Company South Africa;
  4. The Disabled Women’s Award went to Bulelwa Mbolekwa;
  5. The Higher Education Institution category (a new category, for FET Colleges and Universities who demonstrate through their strategy and policy the provision of an inclusive environment for persons with disabilities through their use of technology and the accessibility of their premises) went to the University of the Witwatersrand;
  6. The Young Leader category honoured Michaela Mycroft, who besides being International Children’s Peace Prize winner, is the first University of Cape Town female student with a disability to stay in residence;
  7. The Lifetime Achievement Award (a new category proposed by the Office of the Deputy Minister Woman, Children and People with Disabilities) was awarded posthumously to Ms Ruth Machobane, for her tireless years in championing the cause of people with disabilities.

The Minister said the awards show that people with disabilities play a critical role in the development of the country, but policy gaps continue to hamper equality: “Disability does not mean unable or impossible – we must all join together against the prejudices that constitute the biggest barrier against people with disabilities.”

 

“It’s the responsibility of everyone to ensure that all opportunities are accessible to everyone – our fight for freedom was for everyone. Promoting rights is not a humanitarian gesture or charity but a constitutional right,” she said.

Dunn, commented that: “We need to work towards placing people with disabilities on an equal level, so that they can be considered for their own worth; not placed on a different standard. We started these awards to celebrate the achievements, and the capabilities of people with disabilities, and thus work towards true equality.”

“I believe with these awards we have encouraged the further efforts of everyone in South Africa, able bodied or disabled, to challenge the prejudices that still persist in our country. South Africa belongs to all of us,” she said.

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