Ekiti state roads were shut down for hours on December 23, 2023, as hundreds of women and girls with disabilities marched across major roads to demand their sexual and disability rights. The march, which was organized by the Advocacy for Women with Disabilities Initiative (AWWDI) with support from Hivos and WeLead, was part of a campaign to raise awareness and advocate for the rights and inclusion of women and girls with disabilities in Nigeria.
The marchers, who came from different cities in Ekiti State, carried placards and banners with messages such as “Stop the rape of women and girls with disabilities,” “We have the right to say no,” “We deserve respect and dignity,” “We are not objects of pity or charity,” “We are human beings with rights and potentials,” and “We demand justice and equality.”. They also chanted slogans such as “No more silence, no more violence,” “Nothing about us without us,” and “Women’s rights are human rights.”.
The marchers were joined by many youths who supported their cause and amplified their voice and visibility. They also received solidarity messages from various civil society organizations, human rights activists, media practitioners, and public officials who commended their courage and resilience.
They called on the state government to implement the Disability Rights Act, which was passed by the National Assembly in 2018, and to ensure that women and girls with disabilities are protected from sexual and gender-based violence, discrimination, stigma, and exclusion. They also urged the state government to provide them with access to education, health care, employment, social protection, and participation in decision-making processes.
The march was part of a series of activities planned by AWWDI to mark the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence, an annual international campaign that runs from November 25 to December 10. AWWDI is a national organization that advocates for the advancement of women and girls with disabilities in policies, systems, programs and activities. AWWDI operates in the form of community Self Help Groups in many communities across the country.