A three day workshop on Advocacy, Assertiveness and rights has taken place at the Pastoral Center in Bamenda with participants committing themselves to advocate for their rights. The Socio Economic Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities (SEEPD) Programme organized the workshop that brought together executive members of some Associations of Persons with Disabilities (PWDs) in some Divisions of the Northwest Region. The objective was to provide persons with disabilities with the necessary skills to take the front line role in mainstreaming disability in community development actions.
Representing the Programme Manager who was out for other assignments, the SEEPD Project Officer, Mr. Chia Emmanuel noted that it was a training of trainers’ workshop. He called on the participants to strengthen their skills so that they can be able to advocate for their rights and also train other members in their Associations.
The Supervisor of the Community Based Rehabilitation (CBR) programme, Mr. Kenchi Joseph drilled the participants on the twin track approach to disability and development. He said in order to improve on the quality of life of persons with disabilities, it is not sufficient to only give support to individuals with disabilities on the bases of their impairments but it is equally essential to address the societal and environmental barriers which cause them to be excluded in the society. Mr. Kenchi charged them to go and train others in their communities and advocate for their rights.
Although many persons with disabilities are ignorant of their rights coupled with the fact that most of the rights end only at paper level and never implemented, it was, nevertheless, stressed that it is necessary for them to know their rights all the same. Drilling the participants on these rights, the SEEPD Project Officer, Mr. Chia Emmanuel pointed out that persons with disabilities have the right to life, political participation, employment, and health amongst others. According to him, low self-esteem and ignorance remain some of the barriers that prevent persons with disabilities from enjoying their rights. He, however, noted that advocacy is the key strategy to achieving these rights.
One her part, the Cameroon Clubfoot Care Project Officer, Tina Ashiyo said Advocacy is a process of influencing policies and practices to ensure change. She highlighted that advocacy for PWDs is necessary to influence their inclusion, reduce poverty, influence the respect of their rights, enable them to be independent amongst others. Ms Ashiyo provided the participants with skills on how to be assertive as they advocate for their rights.
SEEPD Communication Officer, Fru Rita Ngum noted that participants also acquired knowledge on finance management and reporting, gender and advocacy and nutrition. At the end of the workshop, participants attested to the fact that the knowledge on their rights has been enhanced. They took a commitment to go and train other members and continue to advocate for their inclusion. They all developed an action plan with technical support from the facilitators.
The workshop ended on April 8, 2015 with a call from the Project Officer of the Community Component, Asheri Ngah for the participants to go out and network with other Associations in order to break the barriers that prevent them from enjoying their rights.