Member states of the United Nations have been asked to increase the representation of women on the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disability.
The call was made by an international NGO, Sight Savers, working to prevent avoidable blindness and eliminate neglected tropical diseases.
Its country Director, Sunday Isiyaku, said in a statement sent to SaharaReporters that COVID-19 had affected women with disabilities the hardest, hence the need to increase their voice on the committee.
He said, “We need to see more women with disabilities in positions of leadership,” Isiyaku said. “If women are not welcomed into the spaces where decisions are made – how will their voices ever be heard?
“People with disabilities are experiencing some of the worst effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, and women with disabilities are the hardest hit. Now, more than ever, we need to make sure they are in a position to ensure the rights of women with disabilities are upheld.”
The United Nations Disability Committee monitors all UN member states to ascertain the extent to which they are upholding the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.
The committee proceeds to make recommendations to governments to ensure people with disabilities can access their full range of rights.
A third of the members on the 18-man committee are women.
Sight Savers notes that the representation has increased from one to six since it began its equal World campaign in 2018.
“The committee moved forward two years ago when four more women were elected to its panel,” Sight savers Programme Director in Nigeria, Dr Joy Shuaibu, said.
“We want to ensure we continue to make progress in achieving parity and given the situation with the pandemic, now is the time to do that.”
Every year, nine members are elected into the committee. Each member has a four-year term and can be elected twice.
The election, which would hold in December, in New York, was postponed due to the pandemic.