Women’s dis­abil­ity award to break bi­ases

The East African - - OUTLOOK -

By SO­NIA ELKS

THE FIRST global award recog­nis­ing the achieve­ments of women with dis­abil­i­ties aims to break through stereo­types to show their skills as lead­ers and prob­lem solvers, founder Ethiopian cam­paigner Yet­nebersh Ni­gussie said on Mon­day.

A film­maker, a po­lit­i­cal cam­paigner and a pub­lic health ex­pert were named the first win­ners of the Her Abil­i­ties awards, which were an­nounced to co­in­cide with World Dis­abil­ity Day.

Ms Ni­gussie said she wanted to put the spot­light on dis­abled women's achieve­ments to com­bat the idea that they are pas­sive vic­tims.

"We re­ally wanted to change that im­age and cher­ish their abil­i­ties and their vic­to­ries," Ms Ni­gussie, who lost her sight at the age of five, said. "Peo­ple need to see our abil­i­ties and our prob­lem-solv­ing skills that we have de­vel­oped through life by over­com­ing at­ti­tu­di­nal as well as phys­i­cal and pol­icy bar­ri­ers ev­ery­where."

More than a bil­lion peo­ple — about 15 per cent of the world's pop­u­la­tion — have some form of dis­abil­ity, ac­cord­ing to the World Health Or­gan­i­sa­tion. Women with dis­abil­i­ties have been recog­nised as dou­bly vul­ner­a­ble by ex­perts, who say they face ad­di­tional bar­ri­ers.

The first win­ners of the awards, which were set up by Ms Ni­gussie and the global dis­abil­ity or­gan­i­sa­tion Light for the World, all came from the de­vel­op­ing world. They in­cluded Toyin Janet Aderemi, the first Nige­rian wheel­chair-user to study and prac­tise phar­macy, who was recog­nised for her work on dis­abil­ity-in­clu­sive health and as a lob­by­ist for dis­abil­ity rights. She lost the abil­ity to walk due to a child­hood bout of po­lio and had to be car­ried on her mother's back un­til she got her first wheel­chair at the age of 15.

"Win­ning this award show­cases what is pos­si­ble and how so­ci­ety starts to ben­e­fit when you are able to ed­u­cate a girl child with a dis­abil­ity," said Ms Aderemi.

Ashra­fun Na­har, who founded the Women with Dis­abil­i­ties De­vel­op­ment Foun­da­tion in Bangladesh, won in the rights award cat­e­gory for her cam­paigns for in­clu­sive pol­icy and equal op­por­tu­ni­ties in ed­u­ca­tion and work.

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