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Stakeholders want persons with disabilities included in leadership

By Ijeoma UKAZU

To mark the International Day of Persons with Disabilities, stakeholders have demanded that they be included in leadership participation as well as partake in the 16 days of activism to end violence against women with disability, a strategy to curb the effect of Covid-19 on women with disabilities.

Speaking during an event held recently in Lagos, funded by Disability Rights Fund, DRF and implemented by Hope Inspired Foundation for Women and Youth, HIFWY in partnership with Journalist Against AIDS, Lagos State Office of Disability Affairs and the Joint National Association of Persons with Disabilities, the Executive Director, HIFWY, Janet Olarenwaju, noted that persons with disabilities are the most excluded groups in our society, asking for inclusion to participate in issues of leadership and governance.

Olarenwaju said over one billion people are living with disabilities, adding that they are among the hardest hit by the Covid-19 crisis in terms of fatalities.

According to dataphyte, Nigeria has an estimated 25 million disabled persons in Nigeria, about one in every eight Nigerians live with at least one form of disability. The most common of these disabilities are visual impairment, hearing impairment, physical impairment, intellectual impairment, and communication impairment.

Olarenwaju said even under normal circumstances, persons with disabilities are less likely to access healthcare, education, employment and to participate in the community, adding that an integrated approach is required to ensure that persons with disabilities are not left behind.

She said, “The UN shadow pandemic report has found that violence against women and girls has intensified since the outbreak of Covid-19. This coincided in many countries with a reduction in services to support survivors, partly due to operational challenges and reduced funding for law enforcement agencies and local women’s organizations, which play an essential role in violence against women service provision. Overlooked in times of emergency such as the Covid-19 pandemic.”

Adebimpe Lawal, Programme Manager, HIFWY, discussed sexual education among persons with disabilities, the causes and impact of lack of sexuality education among women and girls.

“There is a case in my area here in Lagos, a hearing-impaired got pregnant at the age of 15 because her mother does not understand sign language interpretation and could not communicate issues regarding her sexuality. Some young boys in her neighborhood took advantage and got her pregnant.

“Until she met someone who understands sign interpretation, she educated her and thought her about her rights to say no. Though, now a mother of one but more educated on her sexuality.”

According to a report by the leader of Lagos State government-run Domestic and Gender Violence Response Team, Titilola Vivour-Adeniyi, the increase of GBV has been alarming.

“We have been inundated with increased reports of sexual and domestic violence since the lockdown started in late March 2020. In March alone, we received 390 reports. There was a 60 percent increase in domestic violence, a 30 percent rise in sexual violence, and 10 percent increase in physical violence, this is inclusive of persons with disabilities,” she said.

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