By Oswald Agwu, Abakaliki.
A Disability Rights organization, Hope Inspired Foundation for Women and Youth, HIFWYD has set up a 10-man Technical Working Committee to protect and advance the rights of women and girls with disabilities in Ebonyi State.
The Committee was made up of only women, mostly with one form of disability or the other.
Inauguation of the Committee was part of outcome of a two day advocacy training and capacity building for women with disabilities, Joint National Association of Persons with disabilities and some Civil Society Organizations held Friday and Saturday in Abakaliki, Ebonyi State capital.
It is an aspect of HIFWYD’s project: “Advancing Rights of Women in Ebonyi State” (ARWE), with support from Disability Rights Fund.
Volunteer Board Chairman of the Organization, Ejiro Okotie, while inaugurating the committee lamented the degree of discrimination, deprivations and abuses often meted against persons with disabilities in society stressing that women with disabilities are much more vulnerable to sexual and other violations.
Okotie emphasized: “On regular basis, the rights of women with disabilities are violated with impunity while authorities, policy makers and the public show insensitivity.
“Most often, women with disabilities get sex by chance, not by choice.
“There is also gaps in policies and laws speaking specifically to the needs of women with disabilities on issues around Gender-Based violence…”
Okotie charged the committee to synergize with relevant CSOs, other bodies and influencers to ensure that specific needs of the group are imputed into the State policy instruments.
He further charged them to work towards achieving the domestication and signing of the Disability law in the State, taking advantage of the new administration.
She further explained: “The main goal of the Technical working committee is to work closely with the Hope Inspired Foundation as well as the Joint Association of Persons with Disabilities (JONAPWD) and other clusters of women with Disabilities to see that their rights are protected, and their interest actively represented in policy matters in the State.
“They are like a bridge between the women with disabilities and the ability community with the mainstream, working with support from Hope Inspired Foundation.
“Part of what we are doing is to see how we can review the disability draft to reflect specific needs of women with disabilities in Ebonyi State, and also see how we can engage with stakeholders to ensure that we achieve our goal of having it signed.
“It is our desire to have the official launch of the law in the State on this year’s International day of disabilities, December 3.
“With the new administration in the State, there is a window of opportunity to achieve that.”
Members of the committee, Stella Egwu and Elizabeth Agbo, in an interview, described their membership as dream come true.
They pledged to work assiduously with other relevant stakeholders to justify the confidence reposed in them by the organization.
Agbo summed: “I feel so excited because this is an opportunity I have been looking for: a means of expressing my thoughts.
“I am a woman with disability and I know the pains we are passing through.
“It has been my innermost desire to speak out for the welfare of our group, and I think this development has given me the platform to actualize that.”
The duo called on Ebonyi State government to urgently pass a domesticated version of the Nigeria Disability act 2019.
INN reports that resource person at the event, Dr. Ibiam Azu-Agwu, had taken participants on various topics bordering on steps for effective advocacy, advocacy process and advocacy goals and objectives.
There were also lectures on project implementation, Monitoring and evaluation.
In an introduction, the HIFWYD State Program lead, Oluchi Nwite, explained that the essence of the ARWE project is to provide visibility for women with disabilities in GBV response, and also advocate for enabling policy environment for the enactment of disability law in Ebonyi State.
Nwite added ARWE is an 18 month project which started May 2022.