Nigeria Association of Women Journalists (NAWOJ) and The Albino Foundation (TAF)
signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to promote inclusion of Persons with Disabilities (PWDs) and other marginalised groups in the society.
The National President of NAWOJ, Mrs Ladi Bala, said during the signing of the legal documents on Tuesday in Abuja,that the MoU would give more visibility to issues affecting PWDs and other vulnerable groups in the country.
Bala says journalists are critical stakeholders in advancing the cause of governance, hence will use their platforms to create space that will highlight and bring necessary changes on issues affecting PWDs.
He added that “our role is to create visibility on their issues and we also need to galvanise the society to see them as normal human beings with equal rights.
“They should not be looked down on, their rights should not be trampled upon and their dignity should be upheld.
“We are concerned about that and because we have the platform and as part of our constitutional responsilities as watchdog of the society, we decided to build the capacity of journalists nationwide to understand issues on PWDs.
“This is because when they understand it better, they will be able to craft their messages in such a manner that it will elicit the kind of response from the members of the society.
“We should conscientise the society and mobilise them to give the necessary support to these people, give them their space and their rights must be respected and their dignity upheld,” she said.
According to her, the association has over 15,000 members nationwide; hence it will highlight issues of PWDs on their media spaces.
She, however, explained that inadequate funding had been a bane in achieving some of its goals, and urged development partners and other stakeholders to support the organisation.
Mr Jake Epelle, the Founder of TAF, said the MoU was apt, as it would further highlight issues affecting PWDs and ensure full implementation of the Disability Act.
Epelle added that the newly inaugurated members of the Journalists for Disability Inclusion would ensure increased visibility on inclusion for marginalised members of the society.
Esme Stuart, Programme Manager on Gender and Human Rights, European Union (EU), reiterated the commitment of the commission to ensure the rights of PWDs were respected.
She said “disability rights are key priority and the EU has a disability rights inclusion strategy that focuses not only on our programme but ensures disability inclusion in our organisation.
“Today’s signing of MoU brings in two key priorities for the EU, including women’s rights, gender equality and the rights of PWDs.
“We are working to make it more inclusive, not only because it is a human rights but we believe it makes the society better and more inclusive.”
Mr Chris Isiguzo, the National President of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), said the MoU would enable the media to prioritise issues affecting PWDs like the disability act and its level of implementation.
He said “now the media will begin to talk about PWDs because we are talking about a group of persons that cannot talk for themselves.
“Now the media will become their voice and begin to talk about issues that concern them and these are the primary essence of the partnership between NAWOJ and The Albino Foundation.
“NAWOJ will begin to galvanise support from the media community, affiliate organisations so that the essence of this partnership will not be lost.”