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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.

Celine

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Comments

jadefrank's picture

Thank you for applying!

Hi Celine,

So excited to read your application for the Community Board Member position. I posted your essay within your journal so that everyone can read it, without having to download. I hope you don't mind... but am sure that everyone is interested to hear what your vision is.

Thank you for bravely leading the way for others to apply.

I love that you not only represent women from the global south, but also persons with disabilities. Tell me - what kinds of advice do you have for the board and what are your recommendations for being more inclusive of the disabled woman's voice in the work that World Pulse is doing?

Warm regards,
Jade

Celine's picture

Re

I think the board should always think of the fact that if there are challenges of marginalization or segregation facing women in their communities, women with disabilities face same challenges multiple times. In that vein, the Board should please consider their uniqueness while taking decisions and it is by giving them the opportunity to voice out that their peculiarities would be known to others. There is a popular slogan - 'nothing about us, without us'.

To be more inclusive of the disabled woman's voice, it is very important to give her some tips to take care of psychological issues and encouragements, not only to speak out but to forge ahead and live above disabilities. Her peculiarities need to be felt through her own voice. It is very hard though and sometimes looks personal to speak out on personal experience, but to me, it is better because a problem shared is a problem half solved.
If World Pulse is doing a program related work, it should always ask this questions: how disability friendly is this program?

Thank you Jade and sorry for my late response. I went on a weekend and just came back.

Celine:
i am a Board Member of World Pulse and have been working with Jade on this initiative.
thank you for applying for this important position.
your credentials are very impressive especially in light of the extra challenges you had to overcome due to your disability. i am humbled by your strength and courage. and i am thrilled that you have reminded us that the voice of disabled women around the world must be specifically elicited and included.
thank you also for being the first to step up to be considered for this important position.

Celine's picture

Re

Thank you and nice to meet you.
I think somebody has to take the lead in the application, so I did.
I am really glad to know that you noted the importance of including the voice of disabled women around the world. Their own issues are peculiar and should be streamlined while discussing women in various communities.

rahma's picture

wowww

Hi Celine,
Your so awesome, it's so interesting to read your profile. We need more people like you who can encourage other to give a better life for women especially women with disability. Good luck for your dream.

rahma

Celine's picture

Re

Thank you Rahma

SpiraSpera's picture

Inspiring!

Celine, your courage, fortitude and abounding passion are changing the world.

How amazing!

With gratitude,
-S

Celine's picture

Re

Thanks S for your comment. I really feel encouraged.
Celine

JaniceW's picture

Empowering the neglected

Celine,
I am so moved by all the work you do on behalf of people with disabilities. I just love that your organization is called The DIVINE Foundation for Disabled Persons. People with disabilities are every society’s most neglected population and are regularly misunderstood and underestimated by the rest of society. I am a Special Olympics coach and have seen how they are often left feeling isolated physically and emotionally. Families feel shame, communities ostracize them and, as a result, society inevitably undervalues them. People need to know that, disenfranchised and powerless, people with disabilities in many regions of the world often never feel the benefits of self-esteem, pride of accomplishment or unconditional love.

You are living proof (and it is also well documented) that people with disabilities can thrive. I applaud you for helping to change attitudes and foster community building, creating a more inclusive and accepting world for all of us.
Janice

Celine's picture

Re

Dear Janice.
Thank you for always encouraging me.
Indeed they are undervalued and because they are undervalued, they loose self esteem and self worth. The lack of self esteem affect they in various facets of life - securing good jobs, speaking out in public, making good grades in schools, etc. However, I think we should not loose confidence in ourselves remembering that we are still people of special talents like others. We are also wonderfully and specially made.
The name DIVINE was adopted when the federal government of Nigeria through the Corporate Affairs Commission rejected DIFFERENTLY ABLED PERSONS and HELPING HANDS, which we initially went with.
Very grateful Janice
Celine.

JaniceW's picture

Unique and wonderful

Yes Celine, everyone, able and disabled, is unique in a wonderful way and people need to get pass what they see on the surface and embrace the incredible and often courageous spirit within. Thank you for also helping disabled people see their own beauty and cherish it.
Janice

giftypearl.abenaab's picture

You are a powerful woman

Celine,
I am moved so much by your work that no words can aptly describe how I feel right now about your work for the disabled. Your passion and enthusiasm is powerful and in itself empowering.
Your work remind me of Abigail, I blind wonderful young lady a team I work with here.
I believe that the voice of every woman and girl should be heard.
Go Celine, on the good work. You are an inspiration
In admiration
Gifty

Gifty Pearl Abenaab
Founder
Greight Foundation
www.greightfoundation.org

Celine's picture

Re

Thank you Gifty. My regards to Abigail.
Celine

giftypearl.abenaab's picture

Abigail's story

Dear Celine,
I thought you would like to read about Abigail. This is the link to her story

http://www.worldpulse.com/node/20667

Best,
Gifty

Gifty Pearl Abenaab
Founder
Greight Foundation
www.greightfoundation.org

Celine's picture

Appreciation

Thanks Gifty. I am there.

Hello Celine,
I really appreciate you for this wonderful work you are doing, I am a Nigeria and i know what disabled people are facing in our country, thank you for being their voice, you are indeed an inspiration.

hugs
Busayo

Busayo Obisakin
Women inspiration Development center
Ile-Ife, Nigeria
busobisaki@yahoo.com
womeninspirationcenter@gmail.com

Celine's picture

Re

Thank you Sister Busayo
I have to speak on behalf of millions of us who have been silent in Nigeria. You know our system - 'survival of the fittest'.
Love,
Celine

Riruta UW Empowerment Programme's picture

The sky is the limit!

Wow! Celine. What you are doing for the community is well summed up: disability is not inability. keep up the good work.

Anne Khadudu Baraza,
CEO- Riruta United Women Empowerment Programme
+254 729880651/ 020 2602803
!27-00502 Karen, Nairobi Kenya

Celine's picture

Re: The sky is the limit

I agree with you dear sister, there is ability in disability. We will keep on trying our best in our communities.
Thanks
Celine

jap21's picture

Hi Celine

I am here. Count me in to support your work.

Love,

Jackie

Jacqueline Patiño FundActiva
Tarija - Bolivia
South America
www.jap21.wordpress.com

Celine's picture

Thank you Jackie

Jackie,
I appreciate. Will get in touch soon.
Many thanks,
Celine

zoneziwoh's picture

Equality for All

Hello Dear Celine! I am indeed impressed at your dedication to represent women with special needs.It is our dream to see that all women irrespective of their abilities, should be given the rights to explore their potential. every body got a gift for the world and if denied the opportunity, what change therefore are we impacting.

My blessings to you all.
Courage
Zoneziwoh

Stay Blessed

Zoneziwoh

Blog: http://zofem.blogspot.com/

facebook: Zoneziwoh

twitter: @ZoFem

Celine's picture

Re: Equality for All

Hi Zoneziwoh,
I agree with you. You are absolutely right to say that every body got a gift for the world. Women with special needs should be given opportunities to explore their potentials thereby contributing to impact change in the world. Yes, equal opportunities, not minding status.
Thank you so much.
Celine.

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