By Chukwunyere Nwosu (INN), Abuja
Cedar Seed Foundation had on December 5 in Abuja put together a dialogue for persons with disabilities and Organizations of Persons with Disabilities (OPDs) to discuss and deliberate way forward in putting an end to Gender Based Violence and also to recommend solutions to address the issue and change the narratives in Nigeria.
The dialogue was organised in collaboration with Palladium in commemoration of International Day of Personal with Disabilities (IDPD) and 16 Days Activism Against Gender Based Violence in Abuja.
The Technical Director, Cedar Seed Foundation (CSF), Ms. Rose Daniels stated that some of the challenges faced by Persons with Disabilities (PWDs) are attitudinal and institutional barriers, including Gender Based Violence (GBV).
She said “GBV is a crime against humanity and it is disheartening to know that most times the perpetrators of the victims are people close to the PWD, like their aide or neighbour.”
The Chief of Service of Palladium, ably represented by the Manager, Vulnerable Group Donation Sector at Palladium, Mrs. Suzan Agada, assured PWDs and OPDs of her organization’s commitment towards Disability Inclusion and partnership that will ensure that PWDs enjoy the same positive development and benefits as every other citizen.
She said that PWDs are key and important stakeholders of Palladium who are inclusion sensitive and aims to work with local civil society organizations to push for policy reforms and inclusion advocacy. Palladium in collaboration with Inclusive Friends Association (IFA) are advocating for the domestication of the Disability Rights (Prohibition) Act in 6 states.
She said that CSF is a strong partner of Strengthening Civil Advocacy and Local Engagements (SCALE), a five-year project from 2020 to 2025 that bring Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) to work together in addressing specific advocacy issues to ensure that Nigeria is more disability inclusive regardless of ethic group, age, gender and disability status.
SCALE projects strengthen the capacity, systems and structures of CSOs to ensure they become more empowered to be able to deliver intervention standing by themselves. It is a national project with the goal of ensuring that grassroot actors of CSOs have the needed skills and competencies to function effectively and demand for advocacy to ensure that services are provided for the needs of the final beneficiaries.
A participant, Mr. Peter Atayo, PWDs’ Chairman Kubusa ward and AMAC coordinator said that some PWDs suffer discrimination even from their family member who feels ashamed of them and sometimes hide them in the closet for them not to associate with others.
He expressed his happiness for attending such a program which will go a long way to change the narrative for PWDs, deliberate on disability matters and find solutions to make life better.
He pleaded with the Federal Government to assist PWDs especially those in the rural areas, who suffers poverty, discrimination and rejection.
Mr. Vincent Chinedu Okoye, another participant and an IT Specialist noted that PWDs face both pronounced and unpronounced challenges ranging from discrimination to name-calling. He said that some employers believe that PWDs cannot add any value to their organizations or may bring down their reputation. Some perceive this wrong notion that disability is a punishment or curse because of sins of their parents, thereby rejecting and denying them their rights as humans due to their disabilities.
According to him, “Technology has helped PWDs in many ways.
“Assistive devices like magnifying glasses used by persons with albinism to increase the visual acuity, motorized wheelchair to move persons with reduced mobility, hearing-aid which enhance the hearing ability of those with hearing impairment without a Sign Language Interpreter (SLI) and screen reader for the visually impaired which has helped a lot to ease the stress of PWDs, thereby making them contribute to the national development.”
He asserted that such program will build the confidence, self-esteem of PWDs, exposing them to their rights, values and potentials they have to offer which will make them come out of the closet show their gifts and abilities to the world.
PWDs can do a lot despite their disabilities. He commended the present administration of president Muhammadu Buhari for assenting the Disability Rights Act and setting up the Disability Commission and urged them to ensure it is functioning effectively by providing necessary support, putting words into action and more monitoring and evaluation measures on disability programs to make sure that funds are used appropriately and also to include PWDs in all policies and programs of the government to ensure that theirs are respected and protected.