By Chukwunyere Nwosu, Abuja
Advocacy for Women with Disabilities Initiative (AWWDI) has trained self help group leaders of various clusters of women and girls with disabilities in Abuja on the subject of human and legal rights. The training is a proactive measure to protect these vulnerable minority from Sexual and Gender-Based Violence.
The training was held at “Work and Connect”, Jabi, Abuja on 19th April with support from ActionAid Nigeria, Nigerian Women in Leadership, and Global Affairs Canada.
AWWDI’s National Publicity Secretary, Ms. Roseline Migbole hinted that the training was meant to educate the self-help group leaders who are then expected to go back to their different communities to train other women and girls with disabilities on their legal and human rights on the subject of SGBV at national and international levels. It also covered SGBV prevention and related policies.
Ms Roseline noted that AWWDI will also engage Ministries, Departments and States, traditional rulers, religious leaders, community leaders and whole communities in the program designed to prevent SGBV against women and girls with disabilities.
According to her, “we will employ various awareness campaigns and strategies to engage the public to promote the legal and human rights of women and girls with disabilities while teaching them to reduce/prevent SGBV.
Ms. Roseline lamented the bitter fact that a large number of women with disabilities have experienced gender-based violence in some forms. She noted that violence against women and girls with disabilities is a major concern which stems from gender and disability-based discrimination and exclusion – leading to high risks of violence.
She went on to emphasize that the rights of persons with disabilities are also human rights and that PWDs are first humans.
According to her, when gender and disability intersect, violence is triggered – resulting in unique causes and forms of discrimination.
Ms. Roseline added that women and girls with disabilities face a higher risk of violence due to discrimination against people with disabilities and the patriarchal attitude toward women existing in many societies
Perpetrators of violence tend to target women with disabilities because they experience greater social exclusion, mobility limitations and lack support structures. They also struggle with communication barriers and are subject to negative social perceptions.
The public relations expert said: “laws have been put in place to safeguard the rights of women and girls who have disabilities. These laws provide the assistance and attention they require.”
According to her, “VAAP, NHRC Acts, Disability Act, and other institutions of human rights are obliged to pursue all appropriate means of eliminating gender based violence against women and girls with disabilities.
While explaining the rights outlined in the United Nations Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Violence against Women (CEDAW), the Violence against Persons Prohibition Act, and the Lagos State Special People’s Law, Roseline emphasized the need for the government to go beyond simply creating laws and regulations. She urged the government to take action by implementing policies and adopting improved practices to eradicate all forms of discrimination against women.
There was an ‘experience sharing session’ where representatives from different clusters of women and girls with disabilities shared bitter experiences of abuse or mistreatment in the hands of perpetrators or partners.
At the end of the event, the self-help group leaders were tasked with the responsibility of enlightening their members on human and legal rights. They were encouraged to speak out where necessary, reporting SGBV cases to appropriate authorities and creating awareness about SGBV in their communities.