The Gombe State chapter of Network for Women With Disabilities (NWD) has called for equal political participation and full scale inclusion of Women with Disabilities in all public sectors of governance in the State.
The call, INN reports, was made on Friday, February 17, during a rally at the headquarters of the State’s Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Development.
Speaking during the rally, the State Coordinator of NWD, Ms Rebecca Hassan said “Women with Disabilities suffer lingering neglect and discrimination as far as political participation and inclusive governance is concerned”.
She noted that the rally was essentially aimed at showcasing potentials and capabilities of women with Disabilities while calling for their active participation and inclusion in both government and private sector institutions”.
Mrs Hassan reiterates that the timing is right to make room for inclusion of interested women with disabilities in politics as the country heads for another general elections.
“Women with Disabilities who aspire to be involved in active politics should be given free tickets by political parties”, she insists.
The coordinator further added that the NWD chapter she headed has a responsibility to sit with the Independent National Electoral Commission INEC – an impartial electoral empire to develop signed agreement that will fast-track full integration and inclusion of women with Disabilities in the country’s political space.
Ms. Hassan expressed sincere appreciation to State coordinator of MacAthur Foundation, Mrs. Anita H. Dogo whom she described as the force behind the success of NWD activities in Gombe state.
According to her, “this programme would not have been possible without the unalloyed support of mother Anita”
“She has been very supportive to the development of the Disabled and we remain indebted to her for her tireless efforts to salvage the sufferings of women with disabilities in Gombe state”, she added.
On her part, the INEC representative, Mrs Maryam Mohammed said the commission (INEC) is a gender and disability sensitive organization. She further stressed that INEC provides an inclusive mechanism for every category of human beings including women and all PWDs.
She said, “Voters with disabilities specifically women with disabilities has every right to actively participate in the national elections and vote their conscience”
” I urge you all to come out en masse to freely exercise your franchise. Let me assure you that this elective period, INEC had already made necessary arrangements to accommodate more women”.
According to her, “women will be in a different queue from male voters and pregnant and PWDs would be given special attention along with those who are incapable of reading.”
“The visually impaired voters will be allowed to use a special guide they trust to guide them to vote their preferred party or candidate. Whereas the partially sighted among them will use a special kind of magnifying glass in the process of casting their votes”, she informed.
Earlier on, while addressing another front burner topic on women welfare, the Gombe State leader of MacAthur foundation, Mrs Anita Dogo cautioned men to stop beating their wives indiscriminately. She adviced those in authority to identify with the women with disabilities by including them in all aspect of public service in order for them to contribute to the development of their community and general society at large.
Her charge reads “Fellow women, I advice you to believe in yourselves.Your capabilities and potentials are important qualities, do not devalue yourselves because of one form of disability or the otherin.
“Ahead of the upcoming elections, I advice you don’t sell your votes. Ensure your vote is counted. Your vote is important”.
“Disability can not stop you from pursuing your goals and education. Which ever you are: Deaf, Blind or Physically challenged, see your disability as a blessing not a barrier for learning, go and learn and be like our leader Mrs. Rebecca Hassan, who had worked so hard to succeed educationally inspite of her blindness. You too should try to emulate her”. She noted
The rally made it possible for NWD to table some demands from women with Disabilities. These include the need for INEC to spare no resources in enabling women with disabilities actively participate in all electoral processes, timely response to their specialized needs, the need for the electoral umpires to work with Organization of Persons with Disabilities (OPDs) and National Commission of Persons with Disabilities, NCPWD, to recruit and train PWDs as Ad-hoc staff and as election observers.
The women also pressed on the urgent need for provision of free basic literacy, numeracy and other skills development to facilitate the inclusion of women with disabilities in formal and informal sectors of the economy. Discussions also centered on prompt passage, adoption and implementation of the Violence Against Persons Prohibition (VAPP) Act 2015 in the 36 states of the country.
Government and private sector were encouraged to comply with provisions of the National Policy on Disability in Nigeria (2017), and the Discrimination Against Persons with Disabilities (prohibition) Act, 2018 – especially in the area of employment.