Sightsavers Reports

“People with disabilities are underrepresented in politics”

Michel Fozeu sits at a table wearing headphones and speaking into a microphone.

Michel Fozeu is a journalist, disability activist and radio commentator in Yaoundé, central Cameroon.

“Today I am going to present ‘Disability Frequency’, a radio programme dedicated to people with disabilities. Every Tuesday there is always a few words about the political participation of people with disabilities.

“The first barriers start at the family level. There are a lot of people with disabilities that don’t have birth certificates – I mean that their parents didn’t register their birth. In Cameroon, if you don’t have a birth certificate you don’t have an ID card.

“Another problem is the political parties don’t take the issues of people with disabilities into account. When you enter into the political parties, people with disabilities are underrepresented. And because the political parties don’t include people with disabilities, their issues are not addressed in their policies.

“The message that we want to say through this radio programme is that people with disabilities have to take part in the electoral process. From being registered on the electoral list, until the publication of the results. They must also involve themselves in the making of decisions, and participation in the political parties. Because nobody can speak better of the problems faced by people with disabilities than the person with a disability.

“Thanks to the financial help of Sightsavers [with funding from Irish Aid], we now have an inclusive platform to promote the rights of people with disabilities and their involvement in all spheres of society.”

Irish Aid logoIn Cameroon people with disabilities are legally entitled to vote. Yet many of those who want to participate in choosing their political representatives find they are unable to exercise this right, excluded by a series of obstacles both practical and social. Since 2011, with funding support from Irish Aid, Sightsavers has been working with a number of organisations, including Cameroon’s official election body, to raise awareness of this situation, and to support people with disabilities in engaging with the democratic process in their country.

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