By Fru Rita Ngum
The Northwest Regional Delegate of Women’s Empowerment and the Family (MINPROFF) has noted that impairment is part of human existence. He said some people are born with impairments while some impairments result from accidents and ageing. Mr. Wirba Asan was speaking recently at the start of a one day workshop organized by the Delegation of Women’s Empowerment and the Family at the Pastoral Center in Bamenda.
The meeting which brought together 39 Presidents of Women’s Forum and selected women and men with disabilities from the seven divisions of the Northwest Region had as objective to boost the participation of women with disabilities in female empowerment initiatives within the region.
According to the Regional Delegate, in previous years MINPROFF’s activities aimed at empowering women but unconsciously sidelined those living with disabilities. With the formalization of the MINPROFF and SEEPD Programme partnership, the Regional Delegation is intentionally bringing on board females and girls with disabilities to ensure inclusion and sustainability.
Presenting an overview of the SEEPD, the Programme Manager, Mr. Awa Jacques Chirac noted that the programme is in its third phase with focus on engaging development actors to mainstream disabilities in all development initiatives.
Given that the objective of the medical component of the SEEPD Programe is to prevent disabilities and rehabilitate persons with disabilities, Mr. Awa advised participants on how to prevent disability. He called on them to pay key attention to dieting during pregnancy, do frequent eye checkups and stay away from traditional practices that might worsen their conditions.
Mr. Awa led participants to identify some barriers that persons with disabilities face such as inadequate policies and standards, policy designs that do not always take into account the needs of people with disabilities or existing policies and standards that are not enforced, negative attitudes and beliefs and prejudices that constitute lack of provision of services. The Programme Manager challenged the participants to break the barriers by promoting inclusive development which involves everyone especially persons with disabilities, women, children and members of minority groups.
Chairing the discussions on MINPROFF – SEEPD partnership, the Regional Delegate said a Memorandum of Understanding has been signed between the two, MINPROFF Staff have been trained on Disability and Inclusive Development and also follow up and evaluation session of previous trainings have been held.
Considering the enrollment of women and girls with disabilities in Women Empowerment Centers, the Regional Delegate assured a tuition free registration, material and technical support from SEEPD and support from families of trainees with disabilities.
According to the SEEPD Programme Gender Officer, Mrs. Fomonyuy Clodine Mbuli, gender is a critical factor that determines an individual’s role and status. She stressed that activities should explore gender and disability sensitive approaches to enhance equal participation of men and women with disabilities.
Participants gained skills on how to develop clear, complete and current action plans to ensure that disability is sustainably mainstreamed. They were encouraged to make action plans specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and time bound.
At the close of the workshop the various speakers challenged participants to raise awareness on inclusion of persons with disabilities and include persons with disabilities in all actions while liaising with Community Base Rehabilitation in empowering persons with disabilities.