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HomeNEWSWe Shall Eliminate All Vices Against Deaf Women In Nigeria –DWAN

We Shall Eliminate All Vices Against Deaf Women In Nigeria –DWAN

About 15 per cent of Nigeria’s population or at least 25 million people have a disability, and many of them face a number of human right abuses including stigma and discrimination. However, advocacy has now shifted to the liberation and empowerment of women with hearing impairment to enable them live in dignity as well as excel in their fields of endeavour, reports DEBORAH OCHENI.

The international and regional human rights systems remain one of the greatest achievements in the internationalisation of human rights and today the systems are important venues for the protection and promotion of human rights and in particular people with disability. Globally, there have been spirited efforts by people with disabilities to establish their legal rights as bona fide members of society. In advocating for their rights, people with disabilities have strived to establish that they are considered on the basis of individual merit, not on some stereotyped assumption about disability. They also advocated that society must make certain changes to enable them to participate more meaningfully in secular activities.

Disability

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO)’s World Disability Report, about 15 per cent of Nigeria’s population or at least 25 million people have a disability. Many of them face a number of human right abuses including stigma, discrimination, violence, and lack of access to healthcare, housing, and education. In 2019, President Muhammadu Buhari signed into law, the Discrimination Against Persons with Disabilities (Prohibition) Act. The bill which has lingered in the National Assembly for 18 years before its approval seeks to criminalise discrimination against persons with disabilities. The law prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability and imposes sanctions including fines and prison sentences on those who contravene it. It also stipulates a five-year transitional period for modifying public buildings, structures and automobiles to make them accessible and usable for people with disabilities. Recently in Abuja, the Deaf Women Association of Nigeria, in a press briefing to commemorate the 13th Annual General Meeting and National Women Summit of Deaf Women Association of Nigeria(DWAN) called for a review of the Disability Act to give recognition to women. Deaf women The National President, DWAN, Helen Beyioku-Alase said the society can no longer ignore the lot of the deaf women as their disability is not a liability, adding that what a man can do, a woman can do even better. She noted that the 13th Annual General Meeting and Deaf Women Summit commemorates one year in office of the first set of democratically-elected officers of the association. “In the past few years, our giant strides in women emancipation have birthed recognition for some deaf women across Nigeria. However, the successes recorded are a far cry relative to the population of our capable women and the less privileged deaf women in Nigeria. “A deaf woman will mother several generations of hearing citizens. Therefore, it is a disservice to the nation to marginalise the deaf woman and ignore her silent cry over gender-based violence and discrimination committed against us by both the high and the low in Nigeria,” she said.

Deaf Women Association of Nigeria (DWAN), founded by Deaconess Adedoyin Beyioku-Alase, started as a one-woman passion for the empowerment of deaf women in 2001 and since then, DWAN has become a household name in the Nigerian deaf community. “Presently, DWAN has chapters in 27 states spread across all the geopolitical zones of the country and we are working tirelessly to spread to the remaining 10 states of the federation,” she assured.

Discrimination

Speaking on their challenges, the National President stated that “Discrimination, gender-based violence and poor access remain big snares against us. Till date, our members and deaf women in general face violence and subjugation from men, discrimination in employment, zero/poor access to health care, education, public women centred policies which can better the lives of less privileged deaf women hidden everywhere in the nation. We are compassed about but we shall not be discouraged.”

On the future envisioned, Beyioku- Alase said: “We see a future where deaf women are liberated and empowered to live with dignity and excel in their chosen paths towards achieving equality for deaf women at all spheres of human endeavour. “For this to become a reality, she sincerely craved for the support of government and non-governmental organisations including health care facilities, schools, religious leaders, business owners and the like across the nation to create an inclusive community for deaf women through the provision of sign language interpreters in all activities and signage at public places. Women-centred policies which can better the lives of less-privileged deaf women hidden everywhere in the nation. She noted that the focus of their meeting will be to: “Create awareness, exchange ideas, network, build capacity and establish synergy with relevant organisations to address the issues of marginalisation, violation and discrimination against deaf women and girls especially in the areas of sexual and reproductive health rights, gender based violence, employment and empowerment in order to break the bias against us in Nigeria. Gradually, we shall eliminate all these vices against deaf women and girls in Nigeria. “The clarion calls therefore to stakeholders, government, agencies, local and international organisations to take action to curb the menace of ‘exclusion’ and help deaf women get access to inclusive services as well as improved standard of living.”

System

She noted that they have already set up a system to help deaf women achieve better inclusion and equity like their hearing counterparts. “We have achieved better inclusion through collaboration with the National Women Development Centre on Information Communication and Technology (ICT). We also would like to achieve leadership training for DWAN national executives and the leaders of DWAN, Ekiti State, ensure value clarification and attitude transformation workshops to equip our leaders with skills of handling gender based violence.”

She, however, acknowledged the huge gap that that still exists in assessing sexual and reproductive health information and services by deaf women and girls “the situation is a cause for concern; we realised the importance of removing the barriers in communication between deaf women and health care providers in all 36 states of Nigeria including the FCT.

“There is a need to build the advocacy skills of deaf women in Nigeria so they can collectively achieve the goal of inclusive health service. There is also the need to educate stakeholder’s especially health care providers, on the subject of inclusion for persons with hearing impairment. “Deaf women also need an inclusive environment for political participation so that they can be part of the decision making process.” She concluded that these will be the focal points of her tenure as the National President.

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