ADVOCACY FOR WOMEN WITH DISABILITY INITIATIVE (AWWDI) on 2-3rd December 2021, in Abuja engaged women and girls with disabilities in a training in commemoration of the International Day of Persons With Disabilities with the topic: Leadership and Participation of Persons with Disabilities toward an Inclusive, Accessible and Sustainable Post Covid-19.
The event was funded by United Nation Population Fund Nigeria (UNPFA).
The Executive director of AWWDI, Patience Dickson, in her speech said that the training is for awareness and mainstreaming women and girls with disabilities (WGWDs) and also advancing rights of WGWDs on how to build their self-esteem, self-confidence, knowing their rights and policies to back up their rights and having a better outcome of the knowledge about themselves and finally stepping that information down to the rural areas because they need to be knowledgeable about their rights.
She said that the theme of 2021 international day is for persons with disabilities (PWDs) is encourging us to see how far the disability community have gone in the area of advancing rights of all PWDs in the era of post COVID-19.
“PWDs were most hit during the COVID-19 lockdown which has done more harm on their self-esteem especially women with disabilities” she added.
She expects a more inclusive society, proactive engagement towards the needs of PWDS, accessibility for PWDs in the society, issues of gender based violence (GBV) among women with disabilities, how they get justice around GBV, barriers WGWDs face in trying to get justice, the implementation of international and national laws and policies.
She said that everyday should be disability day in order to achieve positive result within the disability community.
She went further to spotlight some factors responsible for low self-esteem such a person with disability thinking so much about disability/impairments, stereotypes and myths, neglect/isolation at home, school and other places.
She also said that inability to access public infrastructure, information, education, employment can also be a factor to encourage low self-esteem.
She encouraged PWDs to be bold, motivated, determined and confident to help them live beyond disability.
Speaking further, on the issue of leadership as it affects WGWD, she said that WGWDs have been invisible in the sphere of participation and leadership in the society, AWWDI has being engaging WGWDs in various training section that geared towards changing their mindset to participate and aspire to occupy the leadership space, and it is important because they faced with a lot of challenges, barriers and discrimination in the society and AWWDI is doing everything to bridge that gap. To be among the decision makers will go a long way to deepen disability inclusion.
Erika Goldson, UNFPA Deputy representative in her goodwill message appreciated AWWDI for a job well done, said UNFPA wants an inclusive society, accessible society and women to be well represented especially in participation and leadership position.
She said that with the rise in population of PWDs and the lack of participation in leadership by PWDs have made it difficult for persons without disabilities to understand the capacity of PWDs.
She encouraged WGWDs to support each other and encourage them to aspire to occupy leadership position in the society.
Representatives from Federal Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, National Human Rights Commission, and Social Development Secretariat (Sexual Assault referral Centre, Abuja) in their goodwill messages appreciated AWWDI for the good job they are doing in the lives of WGWDs and pledged to work closely with AWWDI and WGWDs in response to SGBV.
A hotline for SGBV emergency response number was shared among participants for prompt reporting of SGBV cases and the number is 08078111126.
Participants were taken on some of interesting topics such as self-esteem, and the challenge of leadership, after which some participants shared true life stories on how they survived stigmatization they faced in the family and how they lived beyond the challenges.
They were also taken on Legal right as a person/woman with disability in leadership on disability, GBV, culture and way forward by well experienced Barr, Uzoma Anaeto, SGBV expert and activist, the participants also shared their true life stories on gender based violence by and finally they learnt about Disability, leadership and participation.
At the end of the workshop, the Participants were able to understand issues around disability, legal rights concerning SGBV and leadership and participation of WGWD in the society.
TQM learnt that AWWDI have been engaging seasoned facilitators to build the capacity of WGWDs in leadership, SGBV etc and there has been a conscious effort on the part of AWWDI to enhance the capacity of other women with disabilities groups and organizations, it was evident in the 2day training program where many WWDs groups were well represented.