By Justina Auta
The Network of Women with Disabilities on Friday sought for the inclusion and appointment of women with disabilities in governance and active decision making.
They made the call at a rally and press conference organised by Cedar Seed Foundation in partnership with Policy and Legal Advocacy Centre (PLAC), with funding support from MacArthur Foundation in Abuja.
Mrs Lois Auta-Udonkanta, the President of the group, said the exclusion, discrimination, sidelined, marginalisation and under-representation were challenges affecting Persons with Disabilities (PWDs) in the country.
Auta-Udonkanta, who is also the Founder, Cedar Seed Foundation, explained that in spite of that Nigeria was a signatory to the UN Conventions on the Rights of PWDs, Maputo Protocol and other treaties, women and girls with disabilities were excluded in governance structures.
According to her, some of the challenges affecting poor political participation of PWDs could be attitudinal, infrastructural, institutional, political, cultural and economical.
She, therefore, urged the government to adhere to Section 29 of the Discrimination against PWD Prohibition Act, 2018, which states minimum appointment of five per cent quota for PWDs, with emphasis on women.
“Nobody from the disability community was appointed as a minister.
“We also have other parastatals that PWDs, especially our women can be appointed as director generals, executive directors and executive secretaries.
“So we are still appealing to government to listen to us to give us our rights of active participation by appointing us into these government agencies and parastatals.
“We also need to pay attention to the passionate and deliberate in implementing these beautiful laws and policies that we have,” she urged.
She also encouraged PWDs, especially women, to “come out and participate actively in politics.
“So women with disabilities out there if you’re listening to me, come out and join political parties not just by joining but attending meetings, and also aspiring for positions in those political parties”.
On the Nigeria Disability Act, 2018, the group’s president said: “One of the provisions is the transition period that was given in this Act; five years period, and it will be expiring in January 2024.
“Ramps are not put in our government infrastructures. Sign Language interpreters are not placed at strategic points.
“Braille materials are not provided in our schools and other public infrastructures and those are the barriers we are talking about.
“We need to remove these barriers to be able to include them accordingly.”
Similarly, Miss Cynthia Ukacho, the Training Coordinator for the network, stressed the need to amplify voices of women with disabilities, organise a national dialogue with Sen. Oluremi Tinubu on inclusion in the Renewed Hope Initiative.
Also, Miss Rose Daniel, the Project Officer, said in collaboration with PLAC initiated the Disability Inclusion in Governance (DIG) programme to confront challenges affecting women with disabilities in electoral processes, governance structures and political discourse. (NAN)