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VDI Empowers Stakeholders On Disability Inclusion, Urges Gov. Mba to Establish Enugu State Disability Commission

Enugu, Nigeria – In a significant move to bolster disability inclusion advocacy, the Voice of Disability Initiative (VDI) in collaboration with the Joint National Association of Persons with Disabilities (JONAPWD) Enugu State Chapter, successfully concluded a two-day capacity-building workshop. Held at Residency Hotel in Enugu from June 4th to 5th, 2024, the workshop is a key component of the two-year Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR) project funded by AMPLIFYCHANGE, targeting Enugu, Kwara, and Ebonyi States.

The workshop brought together Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) from across Enugu State, aiming to strengthen their advocacy skills and enhance their capacity to champion the rights and needs of persons with disabilities (PWDs). The event underscored the urgent need for structural and policy reforms to ensure the inclusion and equitable treatment of PWDs in all facets of society.

In a communiqué released at the conclusion of the training, Barr. Catherine Edeh, Executive Director of VDI, alongside the leadership of participating CSOs, issued a clarion call to the Executive Governor of Enugu State, His Excellency Dr. Peter Ndubuisi Mba. The communiqué outlined several critical recommendations:

  1. Establishment of a Disability Commission: The participants urged the Governor to establish a Disability Commission directly under the Executive Governor’s office. This commission would be tasked with overseeing the affairs of PWDs, ensuring their needs and rights are adequately addressed and integrated into state policies and programs.
  2. Creation of Disability Support Desks: The communiqué called for the immediate setup of Disability Support Desks in various state institutions and public offices. These desks would serve as dedicated points of assistance for PWDs, ensuring they receive the necessary support and services.
  3. Engagement of Sign Language Interpreters: To facilitate better communication and inclusion, the workshop recommended the engagement of sign language interpreters in public institutions and events. This would ensure that the deaf community has equal access to information and services.

The workshop featured a series of interactive sessions, expert presentations, and group discussions, all aimed at equipping participants with the knowledge and tools needed to effectively advocate for the rights of PWDs. Topics covered included disability rights, policy advocacy, inclusive education, and the importance of accessibility in public spaces.

Barr. Catherine Edeh emphasized the critical role of CSOs in driving social change and advocating for marginalized communities. She highlighted the workshop as a pivotal moment for disability advocacy in Enugu State, stating, “This capacity-building initiative is not just about training; it is about empowering our organizations to be more effective in our advocacy efforts, to push for policies that will make a real difference in the lives of persons with disabilities.”

Participants expressed their gratitude for the opportunity to enhance their skills and knowledge. Many noted that the training provided practical strategies for engaging with policymakers and implementing inclusive practices within their own organizations and communities.

The SRHR project funded by AMPLIFYCHANGE aims to improve access to sexual and reproductive health services for PWDs, a group often overlooked in public health initiatives. By integrating disability inclusion into the broader SRHR agenda, the project seeks to ensure that all individuals, regardless of their abilities, can exercise their rights and access the services they need.

As the workshop concluded, the call to action was clear: Enugu State must take decisive steps to ensure the inclusion and support of persons with disabilities. With the establishment of a Disability Commission and the implementation of the recommended measures, the state can set a precedent for disability rights and inclusion in Nigeria.

The VDI and JONAPWD, along with other CSOs, remain committed to monitoring progress and continuing their advocacy to ensure that the voices of PWDs are heard and their rights respected. The workshop marks a significant step forward in the journey towards a more inclusive and equitable society in Enugu State.

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