Participation of persons with disabilities in cultural life, recreation, leisure and sport is one of the key provisions in the Equalization of Opportunities for Persons with Disabilities Bill. This provision is also enshrined in the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) to which Malawi is a signatory.
For instance, the Convention, under Article 30, clearly stipulates that States Parties should recognize the right of persons with disabilities to take part on an equal basis with others in cultural life, and to take all appropriate measures to enable persons with disabilities to have the opportunity to develop and utilize their creative, artistic and intellectual potential, not only for their own benefit, but also for the enrichment of society. States Parties shall also take all appropriate steps, in accordance with international law, to ensure that laws protecting intellectual property rights do not constitute an unreasonable or discriminatory barrier to access by persons with disabilities to cultural materials.
In addition, with a view to enabling persons with disabilities to participate on an equal basis with others in recreational, leisure and sporting activities, States Parties shall take appropriate measures to encourage and promote the participation, to the fullest extent possible, of persons with disabilities in mainstream sporting activities at all levels and to ensure that persons with disabilities have an opportunity to organize, develop and participate in disability-specific sporting and recreational activities.
On the other hand, the Equalization of Opportunities for Persons with Disabilities Bill specifically stipulates that the Government shall take appropriate measures to ensure that persons with disabilities enjoy access to cultural materials such as television programmes, films, theatre and other cultural activities, in accessible formats. Government should also ensure that they enjoy access to places for cultural performances or services, such as theatres, museums, cinemas, libraries and tourism services, and, as far as possible, enjoy access to monuments and sites of national cultural importance.
To ensure, therefore, that the aforementioned obligations are fulfilled, the Bill further persuades the Government to develop national norms and standards for public sports and recreation facilities. The Bill even demands that Government should develop national guidelines and criteria for the inclusion of sports for persons with disabilities in national sports development programmes. The Government shall also, in its national housing programme, take into consideration housing requirements of persons with disabilities by providing persons with disabilities with equal access to secure land tenure, housing, finance, and property rights and ensuring disability friendly institutional housing.
According to the Bill, any person who contravenes the above provisions shall be guilty of an offence and liable, in the case of an individual, to a fine of K100, 000.00 and to imprisonment for five years; or in the case of a body corporate, to a fine of one million Kwacha; or any other measure the court may deem appropriate to redress the situation.