The government of Ghana has nominated Gertrude Oforiwa Fefoame, Sightsavers’ Global Advocacy Adviser for Social Inclusion, for a place on the United Nations Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.
The committee, made up of 18 members from around the world, monitors the global implementation of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD). The Convention states that all human rights and fundamental freedoms of all people with disabilities should be protected and promoted.
Based in Ghana, Ms Oforiwa Fefoame is a board member of the Ghana Federation of Disability Organisations and has a long history as an advocate for disability-inclusive development, with a specific focus on women and girls with disabilities.
“It is an honour to be nominated by the government of Ghana for the committee,” Ms Oforiwa Fefoame said. “Women generally, and especially women with disabilities, still don’t have the representation they need or a seat at the decision-making table. This leads to their issues being relegated most of the time to the background. Changing this will be a bold step in addressing the challenges women face, and improve prospects for all people: women, men, girls and boys. I am passionate about this agenda and would be proud to serve on the committee.”
Following the 2016 election, which led to the committee being made up of 17 men and just one woman, there has been a strong call for better representation of women on the committee, and with nine positions available in the 2018 elections there is an opportunity for a more balanced outcome.
Commenting on the nomination, Sightsavers CEO Caroline Harper said: “I’m pleased and proud that the government of Ghana has chosen Gertrude as its nominee. I was shocked at the lack of gender parity in the last election – I strongly believe Gertrude deserves to be elected not just because she is a woman with a disability, but for her phenomenal passion and extensive experience in speaking out for all people with disabilities.”
The full inclusion in society of people with disabilities (as required by the CRPD) is the central theme of Sightsavers’ policy campaign, Put Us in the Picture, which calls on the international community to prioritise the rights of people with disabilities living in developing countries.