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Cedar Seed Foundation Pushes for Greater Inclusivity: Lois Auta Meets Ford Foundation’s Darren Walker

On May 21, 2024, a pivotal Stakeholders meeting took place at the Transcorp Hilton Hotel in Abuja, marking a significant stride towards inclusivity and empowerment for women with disabilities in global development efforts. Madam Lois Auta, the esteemed Executive Director of the Cedar Seed Foundation, engaged in a crucial dialogue with Darren Walker, the Global President of the Ford Foundation. The focus of their discussion was the imperative need to incorporate women with disabilities into the broader spectrum of the Foundation’s initiatives and programs.

Madam Auta, a staunch advocate for the rights and inclusion of persons with disabilities, brought her wealth of experience and passion to the table, emphasizing that any development effort that overlooks women with disabilities is incomplete. She underscored the multiple layers of marginalization faced by these women and highlighted the importance of targeted interventions to ensure their full participation in society.

“Inclusion begins with us,” Auta asserted, capturing the essence of the meeting’s agenda. Her statement serves as a clarion call to action, urging organizations worldwide to recognize and address the unique challenges faced by women with disabilities. By promoting their inclusion, not only are we upholding their rights, but we are also enriching our communities and fostering a more equitable world.

The discussion at the Transcorp Hilton Hotel during farewell event for Darren Walker signifies a commitment to changing the narrative around disability and gender. Darren Walker, known for his progressive leadership at the Ford Foundation, expressed his admiration for Auta’s dedication and agreed on the necessity of inclusive strategies. He acknowledged that women with disabilities often fall through the cracks of development programs and emphasized that the Ford Foundation is committed to rectifying this oversight.

Walker stated, “We recognize the critical role that women with disabilities play in driving social change. Their voices, experiences, and perspectives are invaluable, and it is imperative that our initiatives reflect this understanding. We are committed to working with leaders like Madam Auta and many others to ensure our programs are continued to be inclusive and empowering for all.”

Cedar Seed Foundation, which has long championed the rights of persons with disabilities in Nigeria and beyond. By aligning with a global powerhouse like the Ford Foundation, the Cedar Seed Foundation aims to leverage new opportunities for advocacy, funding, and program implementation, thereby scaling their impact.

Auta detailed several key areas where inclusion is urgently needed. She pointed out the lack of accessible education for girls with disabilities, the barriers to healthcare services, and the economic exclusion that many women with disabilities face. By addressing these issues, she argued, we can unlock the potential of millions of women who are currently marginalized.

“Women with disabilities have the same aspirations and capabilities as anyone else,” Auta emphasized. “What they need is the opportunity and the support to realize their potential. Our society cannot afford to waste this untapped resource.”

The Ford Foundation has a storied history of promoting social justice and reducing inequality. Under Walker’s leadership, the Foundation has sharpened its focus on these goals, with disability inclusion now being a critical component of their strategy.

The outcomes of stakeholders meeting are anticipated to ripple through various sectors, encouraging more inclusive policies and practices. The leaders agreed on the importance of concrete actions and measurable outcomes. They discussed potential collaborative projects, including capacity-building workshops, advocacy campaigns, and the development of inclusive policies and frameworks that can be adopted globally.

They expressed optimism about the future. They reiterated their shared vision of a world where every woman, regardless of her abilities, has the opportunity to thrive. Ford Foundation partnership is poised to not only transform the lives of women with disabilities but also to inspire a broader movement towards inclusivity and equity in global development.

The Cedar Seed Foundation’s Executive Director met with Walker at a meeting organized for Civil Society Organizations and development partners to bid adieu to Darren Walker, the President of the Ford Foundation. Mr. Walker, who arrived in Nigeria on May 19, 2024, concluded his visit with a cocktail event held in his honor by the Ford Foundation Office of West Africa.



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