PWDs: Stakeholders seek implementation of disability laws

By Chimezie Godfrey

As the world marks the International Day for People With Disabilities (PWDs), stakeholders have urged governments across the globe to implement laws to protect their rights and dignity.

This was part of the recommendations made at the end of the “Virtual International Disability Dialogue” held on Thursday, which was organised by the Cedar Seed Foundation.

The group which includes representatives from Civil Society Organizations (CSOs), Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs), Media, and various governments across the globe, came together to identify the challenges faced by people with disabilities, their peculiarities and confer solutions to these challenges.

The stakeholders at the end of the deliberation on the plights of people with disabilities, especially in the developing nations, came up with recommendations which include the collation of data of their unemployment and employment levels among others.

“We recommend that government should collate data of unemployment and employment of Persons With Disabilities (PWDs).

“There should be documentation of the live experiences of the People with disabilities in various workplaces.

“There should be implementation of disability laws in our various countries.

“Governments should set aside percentage of employment for people with disabilities.

“We should have disability policy in our various workplaces or organisations.

“We should undergo disability audits, and capitalize in the use of technology to work with people with disabilities,” they said.

In his remark, the Acting High Commissioner for Canada in Nigeria, His Excellency, Kelvin Tokar harped on the need for the rights and dignity of people with disabilities to be protected.

“In Canada we strongly believe that protecting the rights and dignity of persons with disabilities is necessary for building an all inclusive and prosperous society.

“It is not just about reaching out, it’s about including people in the programmes and policies of government, especially in Nigeria where this challenge is enormous.

“It is about access to education, and a situation where teachers are adequately empowered and equiped to meet the requirements,” he said.

Tokar decried discriminatory tendencies against people with disabilities, and called for adoption of gender analysis which he said will help government tackle the challenges of empowerment and employment barriers against this group of people.

Susie Rodgers, Technical Adviser on Disability from the UK lamented the plight of people with disabilities especially the fact that they are not considered in terms of employment.

She identified barriers hindering the inclusion of PWDs in the scheme of things in various countries, which include institutional, attitudenal, and communication barriers.

She therefore called for collaboration between nations, and all stakeholders to bring about the desired change in the narrative affecting people with disabilities.

A person with disability, Hope Iweajunwa, disclosed that she faced the challenge of accessing medical care from the hospitals as there was no provision made for them, she therefore appealed to the Nigerian government to make it easy for persons with disabilities to access medical care with ease.

“Nigerian government should make it more easy for people with disabilities to access medical care. The same process people without disabilities are using to access medical care, government should create thesame process for people with disabilities to make it easier for us to access medical,” she said.

In response to the plea by Iweajunwa, Founder & Creative Director, KA Design Atelier, Kanika Dewan suggested a change in infrastructure model of hospitals.

“There should be a change in Infrastructure model of hospitals. It should be done to accommodate people with all forms of disabilities.

“Also, people with disabilities should run for political offices to enable be part of the decision making processes,” she said.

Lois Auta, the Executive Director, Cedar Seed Foundation, appreciated the insightful contributions of participants, adding that this will go a long way to tackle challenges faced by people with disabilities across the globe, especially in Nigeria.

Other participants at the virtual international disability dialogue include Stuti Narian Kacker, Chairperson, National Commission for Protection of Child Rights, New Delhi, India, Barr. Danila Oligbinde, Founder, Ark and Rainbow Movement, Jeremy Opperman, Founder, Jeremy Opperman & Associates, Persons With Disabilities (PWDs) across the globe, CSOs, NGOs, among others.