The annual observance of the International Day of Disabled Persons was proclaimed in 1992 by the United Nations General Assembly Resolution 47/3.
The commemoration is marked every December 3, to promote the rights and wellbeing of persons with disabilities in all spheres of society, and to increase awareness of the situation of persons with disabilities in every aspect of political, social, economic, and cultural life.
It also aims at creating advocacy around the needs of persons with disabilities, an understanding of disability issues, and mobilizing support for the dignity, rights, and wellbeing of persons with disabilities. It also seeks to raise awareness of the benefits of integrating disabled people.
This year’s theme, “Leadership and Participation of Persons with Disabilities Towards an Inclusive, Accessible and Sustainable Post Covid-19 World”, aptly captures the concerns of PLWD’s.
Persons With Disabilities in Imo state and Nigeria suffer a lack of access, equal opportunities, and participation in the life and the workplace in private and public sectors. A major reason this has continued to be is the lack of implementation of and adherence to relevant legal framework and policies.
It is no news that sexual violence against women with disabilities is gradually becoming an unchecked phenomenon from perpetrators who take advantage of their situation.
PLWD’s especially women and girls are raped and routinely assaulted by male caregivers, close relations, at home and in school, without consequences.
The lack of a Sexual Assault Referral Center, SARC, and a nonexistent database system, in Imo state, has given rise to the increased violation of women with disabilities in the state.
To ensure full participation for persons with disabilities to function effectively in the covid-19 world, deliberate efforts must be made by stakeholders to see that the vulnerable groups are given equal space in decision making, politics, sports, leadership, ICT.
This can be made possible through accessible environments and structures such as sign language interpreters, ramp, braille, signage, lifts, digital accessible tools, e-braille, and others.
Even as the 2023 elections approach the needs of PLWD’s must be represented during the electioneering process for equal participation and social inclusion.
We there implore the government;
- To speedily implement and adhere to relevant frameworks and policies that protect PLWDs, especially Violence Against Persons Prohibition Bill
- Include PLWD’s interest in the newly approved National Development plan of 2021-2025
- To provide an enabling environment and put structures in place that makes for social inclusion and social acceptance.
- To ensure that PLWD’s have equal access to opportunities and participation