The Parliamentarian 2021 Issue Four: Commonwealth Parliaments supporting people with disabilities

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THE CHALLENGES AND BARRIERS FACING PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES IN THE COMMONWEALTH

AN ASSESSMENT OF GENDER AND DISABILITY IN THE COMMONWEALTH: A VIEW FROM NIGERIA Introduction Girls and women of all ages with any form of disability are generally among the more vulnerable and marginalised of society, which requires further actions and initiatives to implement the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action and the General Assembly Resolution S23/3 of 10 June 2000, annex, paragraph 63. It is also on record that less than 5% of children and young persons with disabilities have access to education and training; girls and young women also face significant barriers to participating in social life and development. The global literacy rate for adults with disabilities is as low as 3% and 1% for women with disabilities. People with disabilities. in general, face difficulties in entering the open labour market, but, seen from a gender perspective, men with disabilities are almost twice as likely to have jobs than women with disabilities. When women with disabilities work, they often experience unequal hiring and promotion standards, unequal access to training and retraining, unequal access to credit and other productive resources, unequal pay for equal work and occupational segregation, and they rarely participate in economic decision-making (Arthur, 2003). According to the World Bank (2021): “Every minute, more than 30 women are seriously injured or disabled during labour. However, those 15–50 million women generally go unnoticed.” According to the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (1999): “Women with disabilities, of all ages, often have difficulty with physical access to health services. Women with mental disabilities are particularly vulnerable, while there is limited understanding, in general, of the broad range of risks to mental health to which women are disproportionately susceptible as a result of gender discrimination, violence, poverty, armed conflict, dislocation and other forms of social deprivation.” Depressive disorders account for close to 41.9% of the disability from neuropsychiatric disorders among women, compared to 29.3% among men. “Women with disabilities face significant barriers in accessing adequate housing and services” (Miloon, 2005). In another related line, Miloon (2005) also postulated that “Women with disabilities are more likely institutionalized than men with disabilities.”

Conceptual Operationalisation It is useful to define some significant concepts as follows: • Disability: this word, albeit interpreted differently by some experts, may have similar or different meaning from the original usage. It refers to, as used in this research, the state of being incapacitated either physically or mentally by nature or by accident. • People with Disabilities: people with disabilities are incapacitated people living in society, either in a physical or mental incapacitation either by nature or by accident. • Women with Disabilities: this refers to women who are incapacitated mentally, emotionally or physically, either born with such or victimized by accident. Theoretical Framework This article adopts the critical disability theory in order to have a scientific basis for discussing the findings of the research. Critical disability theory (CDT) is one of the theoretical approaches under Disability Studies. As indicated by Hosking (2008), different CDT elements are often used in interdisciplinary studies on disability. However, it is important to note that the theory has its origins in the tradition of critical theory of the Frankfurt School, whose philosophical sources not always correspond with the assumptions of Disability Studies. Critical disability theory is primarily a ‘critical theory’ as understood by Horheimer (Horkheimer 1995), i.e. CDT is meant to be simultaneously ‘explanatory, practical and normative’ (Hosking 2008:3). Hence, the critical disability theory should above all: explain what is wrong in current social reality, identify the actors that can change it, introduce precise standards into social debate, in order to formulate available targets of social change (Bohman 2005). CDT is based on criticism of traditional assumptions and discussions on disability, aimed to oppress persons with disabilities and violate their rights (Hosking 2008: 4). The theory is based on the claim that ‘disability is not fundamentally a question of medicine or health; nor is it just an issue of sensitivity and compassion; rather, it is a question of politics and power (lessness), power over, and power to’ (Devlin and Pothier, 2006: 2). In this perspective, the legitimisation of paternalistic treatment and oppression of the disabled by non-disabled manifested through

Hon. Dr Zainab Gimba, MP is a Member of the Nigerian House of Representatives,

representing the Bama/Ngala/Kala Balge Federal Constituency of Borno State. She was elected into the House in February 2019, had her preliminary and secondary education in Borno State and proceeded to the University of Maiduguri. She is one of the longest serving Commissioners in Borno State, serving from 2011 to 2018 and the only female representative in Parliament from the state. She is the Commonwealth Women Parliamentarians (CWP) Africa Regional Chairperson.

368 | The Parliamentarian | 2021: Issue Four | 100 years of publishing


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