PRESS RELEASE ON THE OCCASION OF THE INTERNATIONAL WOMEN’S DAY BY CEDAR SEED FOUNDATION, VOICE OF DISABILITY INITIATIVE, POTTERS GALLERY INITIATIVE AND DEAF WOMEN ASSOCIATION.
Good morning gentlemen of the press, disabled people organization and members of the Nigeria Disability Community. I welcome you to this important event.
The month of March marks the women’s history month, where the world celebrates women in all spheres of life, on this occasion, the cedar seed foundation, in partnership with voice of Disability initiatives, Deaf Women Association of Nigeria, National Human Rights Commission and potters Gallery are women all over the world and particularly in Nigeria, to commemorate this day.
This year’s theme, #BeBoldForChange, and our sub-theme ,Leave No One Behind, could not have come at a better time, especially when gender mainstreaming is the business of the day.
For too long, women with disabilities have been side-lined, marginalized and left behind from development agenda even within the women folks. Women with disabilities have equal rights like any other human being, women with disabilities have potentials, they have abilities, they have gifts, they are brilliant, intelligent, workaholic and hardworking, they have what it takes to make it happen for themselves, their families and others. All what we are asking for is the opportunity and support and we will deliver exceedingly well. Some women with disabilities are politicians, doctors, nurses, engineers, scientists, lawyer, administrators, CEOs, MDs, international public figures, ambassadors, agents of change, women entrepreneurs, mother, wives, and so on.
The first female deaf lawyer in Nigeria, 2015 Mandela Washington Fellow and the founder of voice of Disability Initiative, Bar. Catherine Chinyere Edeh is one of the implementing partners of this event, Helen Alashe also an implementing partner, is the FCT Chairperson for Deaf Women Association, Abuja Chapter and a 2016 fellow of Women Institute on Leadership and Disabilities Lois Auta who is the founder of Cedar Seed Foundation has represented disability people at local and global events, she has just been announced as a 2017 Young Global Leader of the Economic Forum on March 15, 2017, the only Nigeria in 2017 and the first YGL in the Nigeria Disabilities Community.
Despite the enactment of the Protocol and other human rights instruments that promotes and protect the right of women, the gender can only be effectively realised if the protocol and other related instruments are ratified, domesticated and implemented in Nigeria. Over the years, a number of roadmaps and strategies have been utilized by women rights focused organisation in Nigeria to speed up the ratification of the protocol, but there still remains a lot to be done. The response has not been that quick and satisfying as expected, but the definition and situation of women in Nigeria is gradually and practically changing. The slogan a woman’s place in the kitchen is no longer popular. Today, women bedroom are also open to women and we are being included in decision making processes and positions. However, Nigeria as the giant of Africa an d state party to various international charters that seeks to empower women still lag grossly behind as regards empowering, especially women with disabilities. Many cultural practices in Nigeria are discriminatory to women, when you area a woman with disability, the discrimination becomes more and more pronounced.
We women, more especially women with disabilities are deprived of access to land, deprived of access to productive, social and other services pertinent to our development, and lack of full participation in social and political decision which hamper our growth, empowerment and independence. We therefore use the IWD commemoration to lobby for the total elimination of all forms of violence against women (VAW) and girls which comes in variety of ways and due legislation and assent on the Nigeria Disability Rights Bill and other Bills intended to safeguard the rights of women and other disadvantage groups. Give us our rights; include us in your government policies and programs. Believe in us and we will deliver.
Women will not simply be mainstreamed into the polluted system, women are changing the system making it clean, green and safe. Empower women.
Happy International Women’s Day
Lois Auta (Founder, Cedar Seed Foundation)