In its bid at ensuring more participation of People With Disabilities (PWDs) in the electoral process, the League of Democratic Women (LEADS) has organized one-day content development workshop to develop a charter of PWDs on elections in Kaduna State.
Speaking at the workshop, Executive Director LEADS, Ms Rebecca Sako-John said that persons with disability constitute a large chunk of the Nigerian population, estimated at about 25 million.
“A forum before the 2015 elections by IFES identified a number of obstacles to the inclusion of voters with disabilities to include absence of visual information about polling procedures to meet the needs of people who are deaf, or hard of hearing, and the non-recruitment of persons with disabilities to INEC Desk Officer positions established to work on electoral access issues,” she explained.
She said that a 2015 post election assessment conducted by Action Aid found out that participation of PWD was declining, and 78 per cent of respondents felt they were discriminated on.
“51 per cent said no special arrangements for PWD by INEC but noted that some of the provisions include separate queues, shades, special ballot for the blind, quick attention, and assistance,” she added.
The LEADS Executive Director expressed optimism that improvements would be noticed at subsequent elections, as Kaduna State is already at an advanced stage of approving the Gender and Social Inclusion Policy.
“This will go a long way in advancing the rights of the socially excluded,” she stressed.
Speaking further, she said that the Strengthening Citizens Engagement in the Electoral Process (SCEEP) across Kaduna State have started going round, tracking budgets and observing the ongoing voters registration process.
She said that the SCEEP project which is supported by Action Aid and UKAid also works in tandem with the Not too Young to Run campaign, in a move aimed at providing opportunities for younger candidates to contest at elections .