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Abia State Hosts Transformative Workshop on Disability-Inclusive Programs and Policies

Umuahia, Nigeria – In a significant step towards fostering an inclusive society, the Centre for Citizens with Disabilities (CCD) organized a comprehensive two-day capability-building workshop on May 23rd and 24th, 2024, in Abia State. The workshop aimed at equipping Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) and public institutions with the necessary knowledge and skills to develop and implement disability-inclusive programs and policies.

The event, part of the “Promoting Inclusive Economic Opportunities and Community Resilience for Persons with Disabilities” project, kicked off with an inspiring opening remark by the Acting Director of the Centre for Citizens with Disabilities, Mr. Godwin Unumeri. He underscored the importance of the workshop in driving systemic change towards greater inclusivity.

Day One: Laying the Foundation for Inclusion

The first day featured two major presentations that set the tone for the workshop. The initial session, titled “Public Policy Analysis and Engagement,” provided participants with critical insights into the analysis and formulation of public policies that cater to the needs of persons with disabilities (PWDs). The presentation emphasized the importance of engaging with policymakers and stakeholders to advocate for inclusive policies.

The second presentation, “Inclusive Workplace and Equal Opportunities,” delved into strategies for creating work environments that accommodate all employees, regardless of their disabilities. It highlighted best practices for ensuring that workplaces are not just accessible but also supportive, allowing every individual to contribute their best efforts for optimal organizational benefits. Participants were encouraged to adopt these practices to foster a culture of inclusivity within their respective organizations.

Day Two: Deepening the Commitment to Inclusivity

The second day began with a welcome address by Mr. David Anyaele, the Senior Special Assistant to the Abia State Governor on Persons with Disabilities. In his speech, Mr. Anyaele emphasized the current administration’s commitment to building a new Abia that is inclusive, transparent, and participatory. He highlighted the government’s dedication to creating an environment where every citizen, irrespective of their physical abilities, has the opportunity to thrive.

Building on the discussions from the first day, the second day included extensive deliberations on the necessity of public facilities having directional guides and elevators with audio connections. Participants agreed that the absence of such facilities perpetuates inequality and hinders the integration of PWDs into society. These discussions underscored the urgent need for infrastructural adjustments to accommodate PWDs better.

The day also featured in-depth discussions on theories of disability and disability-inclusive budgeting. Participants explored various models of disability, understanding how these perspectives influence policy and practice. The session on disability-inclusive budgeting was particularly impactful, as it highlighted the importance of allocating resources in a manner that addresses the unique needs of PWDs, thereby promoting equity and inclusion.

David Anyaele, Senior Special Assistant to the Abia State Governor on Persons with Disabilities

Commitment to Change

The workshop concluded with a powerful closing remark by Mrs. Priscillia Ogbonna, the Co-Chair of the Abia Open Government Partnership (OGP) National Steering Committee. Mrs. Ogbonna reaffirmed the OGP’s commitment to advancing disability inclusion in all government policies and programs. She commended the participants for their active engagement and encouraged them to implement the insights gained during the workshop in their respective fields.

“The knowledge and strategies discussed over the past two days are crucial for creating a society where every individual, regardless of their abilities, can access equal opportunities and participate fully,” Mrs. Ogbonna stated. “We are committed to ensuring that the principles of inclusion and equity guide all our initiatives.”

A Collaborative Effort

This workshop was part of a larger initiative implemented by the Centre for Citizens with Disabilities in collaboration with Project Enable Africa, with generous support from the US – Alumni Engagement Innovation Fund. The project aims to promote inclusive economic opportunities and enhance community resilience for PWDs across Nigeria.

As the workshop concluded, there was a palpable sense of optimism and determination among the participants. The event not only provided valuable knowledge and tools but also reinforced the collective commitment to building a more inclusive society.

In the words of Mr. Godwin Unumeri, “This workshop is a significant milestone in our journey towards achieving true inclusion. By empowering CSOs and public institutions with the knowledge and skills to implement disability-inclusive programs and policies, we are laying the groundwork for a society where everyone has the opportunity to thrive.”

The success of this workshop marks a pivotal moment in the ongoing efforts to promote inclusivity in Abia State and beyond. With continued collaboration and commitment, the vision of a society where every child, adult, and person with a disability can enjoy their full rights and potential is within reach.

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