Giving Disabled Women a Voice in the WorldPulse Board of Directors
I am Celine Ebere Osukwu, a Nigerian female born in Ihioma, a suburb village in Imo State. I am disabled by kyphosis; I grew up with this disability and passed through stages of life facing challenges associated with being a woman and living with disability in a society where socio-economic means are inaccessible to female sex. The challenges made me resolute and determined. I work hard to improve myself and devote my life to championing the course of improving the lives of disabled persons.
I hold Masters degree in International Relations from Middlesex University, London and Bachelors degree in History from the University of Benin, Nigeria. I have Certificates in Women’s Studies and Gender Relations, Gender and Conflict Management. I also received trainings in Gender, Media and Conflict Management. In addition to academic qualifications, I participated in various discourses on disability and related issues, for instance, at the 9th Assembly of the World Council of Churches held in Brazil in 2006, I represented the interest of disabled persons from Nigeria under the Ecumenical Disability Advocates Network (EDAN) at the Assembly and was a rapportuer during the pre-meeting of this Disability group.
At the course of my engagements in disability related activities and women issues, it becomes more glaring that disabled persons are mainly the downtrodden, most forgotten and marginalized group in the societies despite the fact that they are also people with extra-ordinary talent. They have limited access to opportunities and information. Because societies exclude them, they hardly reach their full potentials. Indeed these issues raised increased my burning and unprecedented passion for assisting and representing the their interests. I desire for opportunities to speak for, represent the interests and contribute my skills for the empowerment of disabled especially on issues that mainly affect their living. I also desire that they should be given a sense of belonging in this globalized world so that they can contribute their skills to the development of their societies. My yearnings and aspirations thus become the driving force, which informed my career choice of charity work and subsequently the formation of Divine Foundation for Disabled Persons - a platform for the empowerment of disabled persons in my community. Based on the foregoing, this essay comes on the heels of my belief that a position for me to serve on the World Pulse Board of Directors will make a good representation of the PulseWire community. It is vital considering the World Pulse vision to cover global issues through the eyes of women, including disabled women will make the vision encompassing and increase the visibility of issues related to women with disabilities.
My professional career as a Charity Worker started in 1997 when I joined the services of Young Women’s Christian Association, an International Women’s Movement that champions the cause of women and girls. I held two leadership positions at various times and from 1997 – 2007sat on the board where decisions on policy issues were taken. I represented the community of young women and most times I sat to protect the interests of disabled women and girls. In the Committee for the Defence of Human Rights, I am the Director of Programmes and Projects and by virtue of my position, I sit in the Board meetings. My daily work is specifically on the area of human rights protection and defense. I represent the interest of marginalized group (women, disabled and other oppressed individuals) or indigent persons as we call them. In Divine Foundation for Disabled Persons, I am the Director and saddled with, among other things, the responsibilities of directing and coordinating the members and activities of the organization in line with the organization’s mission and goal; representing the organization and issues of disabilities and persons living with disabilities in development programs and functions, this is in terms of presenting the concerns and issues of disability and advocating for protection of persons with disabilities.
I sincerely devote this essay towards giving disabled women a voice on the world Pulse board of directors. Non-inclusion of women with disabilities may likely constitute inadequacies in achieving the full and accelerated cover of global issues through the eyes of women; there is a need to take into account the concerns of PWDs. Measures are needed at all levels to integrate them into the mainstream.