By Mnena Iyorkegh
The United Nations has restated its commitment toward fostering an inclusive, accessible and equitable society, where every individual can realize their full potential, regardless of any physical or intellectual barriers.
The United Nations Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator in Nigeria, Mr. Matthias Schmale, stated this at an Open Door Forum with Persons with Disabilities, aimed at discussing issues, challenges and the way forward for better and more impactful inclusion of them.
He also said the leadership of Persons with disabilities and their representative organisations are essential to implementing the United Nations Disability Inclusion Strategy effectively.
“The Strategy launched by UN Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres, in 2018 is to provide the foundation for sustainable and transformative progress on disability inclusion through all pillars of the work of the United Nations. This is our roadmap for ensuring that the rights enshrined in the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities are enjoyed by all persons with disabilities. Step-by-step, we are building disability inclusion into the UN’s humanitarian, development, and peace work.”
He quoted the Secretary General who often says: “Inclusion is the cornerstone of a sustainable future. Without it, we are merely building on sand. We have listened to the calls of persons with disabilities for: ‘Nothing about us, without us”.
Mr. Schmale, also noted that “Disability inclusion requires meaningful participation of persons with disabilities in the decision-making process. Participation is a fundamental human rights principle for good reason because those with first-hand experience of the challenges are best positioned to tackle them,” he noted.
According to the Resident Coordinator, “When we secure the rights of people with disabilities, we move closer to realizing the central promise of the 2030 Agenda – to leave no one behind. The United Nations here in Nigeria is determined to lead by example. We must act as agents of change in advocating for inclusion.
Also speaking, the Head of the Network of Women with Disabilities, Lois Auta lamented that no woman with disabilities is presently occupying any known political position in the country.
“Women with disabilities participation in politics in the country is a well-known fact to be at zero level. Women with disabilities are triple jeopardized, first as women, secondly as women with disabilities, and lastly the barriers they faced in their day to day life. We go through infrastructural barrier, institutional barrier and attitudinal barrier. What can we do to remove this exclusion, discrimination, and all these barriers, and all the discriminations against women with disabilities in every agenda, both in public and private sector”.
Auta, while appreciating the UN for organizing the meeting said “I am proud of this meeting today, this shows someone care for us, however, I am appealing to the UN system in Nigeria to do something to ease our pains,” she said
According to UN, the Disability Inclusion Technical Working Group is a key mechanism for raising the voices of persons with disabilities.
It is also a forum for sharing personal stories, emerging issues, and policy recommendations. It is a forum for surfacing solutions to the problems faced by the 30 million Nigerians living with a disability and also a forum for active participation in the collective journey towards achieving the SDGs in Nigeria.