In Nigeria, it is estimated that 26 million people are living with disabilities, 13 million of which are women. Women With Disabilities (WWDs) are confronted with myriad of challenges such as poverty, social exclusion, stigma and discrimination, and lack of access to health services and various other human rights abuses and above all they are considered the poorest of the poor in Nigeria.
According to Irene Patrick-Ogbogu, the Executive Director, DRAC. Disability Rights Advocacy Center (DRAC) is a Non-Governmental, Not-for-Profit Organization that works to promote the Human Rights of Persons with Disabilities (PWDs), facilitate their Social Inclusion in the Development Agenda and increase awareness about the situation of women with disabilities in Nigeria.
Irene spoke extensively while delivering key note address at interactive session today in Abuja with the theme “Strengthening the Role of the Media in Social Inclusion for WWD in Nigeria”, she said the Bill to ensure full integration of Person with Disabilities (PWDs) has come before three past Presidents namely: Obasanjo, Yar’ adua and Goodluck administrations but none has deemed it fit to assent it” Nigerians need to change their mindset toward PWDs in general, because PWDs are still perceived to a large extent as objects of pity rather than positive perception giving to the able-bodied persons she explained.
She further added there must be legal framework protecting the WWDs, as this would the only weapon to fight back when their fundamental human rights are being violated and trampled upon.
Some other challenges confronting PWDs particularly WWDs were highlighted and discussed at the interactive session for instance the issue of sexual violence against these women. they are being raped and abused sexually on daily basis, most whom are too scared and shy to speak up about their ordeals which often lead to psychological truama and torture.
Lois Auta, a Woman With Disability who is also Mandela Washington Fellow shared her experience of mistreatment in the hands of ex-boyfriend family. “Act now for the inclusion of Women with disability in policies and programmes” she affirmed. The passage of disability Bill into law will go a long way in addressing these challenges facing Women/Persons with Disabilities.