Home Disability News Coalition calls for greater inclusivity of PWDs in Nigeria

Coalition calls for greater inclusivity of PWDs in Nigeria

…Tasks FG on speedy implementation of ACT

by Inclusive News Network

A Coalition of persons with disabilities (PWDs) has urged the Federal Government to expedite actions on the implementation of the Discrimination against Persons with Disabilities (Prohibition) Act, just as it called for greater inclusivity for PWDs in Nigeria.

The Act was passed into law in 2018 after a decade of advocacy and lobbying. However, six years into the implementation of the Act, disability rights groups are dissatisfied with the progress achieved so far in Nigeria.

PWDs shared their personal frustration with the misconceptions, stigmatisation, and barriers that prevent them from living a full and fulfilled life, during a recent panel discussion jointly organised by the Center for the Right to Health and the Ford Foundation.

They highlighted how persons with disabilities are denied access to education, health care and other amenities and often pitied, viewed as incapable, and their sexuality, desires, and intellect disregarded, while some have to endure abuse by their caregivers.

Darren Walker, president, Ford Foundation, who moderated the panel discussion, noted that the issue of disability rights and justice has become a very salient topic not only in Nigeria but globally. “Across the world, we are seeing a grassroots demand for accountability, rights and justice for people with disabilities, and it is about time,” he said.

He further said that most of philanthropy and donors were fixated on poverty alleviation, reducing inequality and injustice, with little or no work in empowering and supporting the leadership, rights and development of people with disabilities.

“We at the Ford Foundation, have been on our own journey in this regard and in recent years, we donors have done what was long overdue in acknowledging that there can be no justice without justice for people with disability,” Walker stated.

To further improve things, participants discussed the need to work towards inclusive education, healthcare, and agriculture.

Ekaete Umoh, former director, Global Disability Inclusion and Ford Foundation fellow, stated that by working across sectors, Nigeria can acknowledge the diverse experiences within the disability community and harness it for development.

She further disclosed that it was the way to go if society would be successful at disrupting the kind of inequalities that exist against PWDs, especially in Nigeria.

Stella Iwuagwu, executive director, Center for the Right to Health (CRH), a spinal cord injury survivor who shared these realities, said the main reason is: “We are seen as less of in the eyes of society and therefore do not deserve a full life like any other person.”

Rasak Adekoya, disability inclusion and development consultant, said that disruption in public acceptance also means it is time to redefine existing notions and perceptions by creating an inclusive media that narrates stories of persons living with disabilities without prejudice.

“A relative asked my wife, I hear you are getting married to a blind man, she said yes. Are you ready to live all your life taking care of somebody? But my wife told her, I’ve been dating him and I’ve not been taking care of him. We have been married for 10 years now,” Theophilus Odaudu, programme officer, Disability Rights Fund, recounted the stigma his able-bodied wife faced when she accepted his marriage proposal.

According to him, lack of inclusivity, inadequate resources, and age restrictions limit the education and employment opportunities of persons living with disabilities.

He further said that many special schools in Nigeria are situated miles away from where dwellers are, and lack the necessary study materials and professional teachers, which often prolong the period many PWDs may use to complete their education, thus complicating access to jobs.

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