Inclusion and appointment of women with disabilities in active decision making and governance has been requested by the Network of Women with Disabilities. This advocacy was made at a rally and press conference put together by Cedar Seed Foundation in collaboration with Policy and Legal Advocacy Centre (PLAC). The rally was funded by MacArthur Foundation and was held in Abuja. Mrs. Lois Auta-Udonkanta is the current president of the network, and she cited challenges affecting Persons with Disabilities (PWD) in Nigeria.
She stated that some of the challenges facing Persons with Disabilities (PWD) in the country includes exclusion, side-line, under-representation, discrimination, and marginalization. Also founder of Cedar Seed Foundation, Auta-Udonkanta, reiterated that Nigeria was a signatory to the Conventions of the United Nations (UN) on the Maputo Protocol, Rights to PWD, among other treaties. Nevertheless, there is exclusion of women and girls in governance structures. She further asserted that there are challenges impeding the political participation of PWD.
Adherence to Section 29 of the Discrimination against PWD Prohibition Act.
Some of the challenges causing poor political participation were highlighted to be attitudinal, institutional, cultural, infrastructural, political, and economical. Hence, the government was implored to ensure adherence to Section 29 of the Discrimination against PWD Prohibition Act, 2018, which allots minimum appointment of five percent quota for PWD, especially women. She stressed no one from the community of the disabled got a ministerial appointment. The president of the group stressed that there are fields where PWD can work effectively.
According to her, women in the disability community can work effectively if appointed as director generals, executive secretaries, and executive directors. As a result, the Network of Women with Disabilities, through its leader, is imploring the government of Nigeria to grant them their rights of active participation through appointment into government parastatals and agencies. She added that it is necessary that the government is passionate and intentional in the implementation of the laws and policies embedded in the constitution.
Lack of provision for their required needs and amenities.
In the same vein, CEO of Cedar Seed Foundation urged PWD, particularly women, to come into the limelight and engage in active political participation. She emphasized that all women with disabilities that listened to her speaking should come out of the dark and join political parties to attend meetings, and also to aspire for political positions under the umbrella of those political parties. Furthermore, the president of the network spoke on the Nigeria Disability Act of 2018.
The transition period granted in this Act is one of its provisions. It gave a five year period that will expire in January 2024. She lamented that ramps are not included in the infrastructure of the government. Also, sign language interpreters are not present at strategic situations. Braille materials are likewise not catered for in schools and other public infrastructure across the country. Lack of provision for the required amenities of PWD are impediments that affect these persons, and they should be erased.
Disability Inclusion in Governance programme.
Furthermore, Miss Cynthia Ukacho, the Training Coordinator for the network, emphasized the need for amplification of the voices of women with disabilities, and organization of a national dialogue with the First Lady of Nigeria, Senator Oluremi Tinubu, on inclusion, in line with the Renewed Hope Initiative. The Project Officer, Miss Rose Daniel, said that in partnership with PLAC, they have launched the Disability Inclusion in Governance programme to combat challenges facing disabled women in governance structures, electoral processes, and political discourse.
Network of Women with Disabilities: Website