By Ere-ebi Agedah Imisi
In commemorating September Deaf Awareness Month, the Executive Secretary, National Commission for Persons with Disabilities, Mr. James David Lalu has advocated for the inclusion of deaf women and girls in every facet of the society, stating that there exists vast talent in the deaf community.
While receiving a delegation of organizer from the Most Beautiful Deaf Girl in Nigeria, MBDGN in Abuja on Thursday, Lalu explained that the winner of this year competition will be supported by the commission to pursue a laudable project that will create awareness on disability issues in general.
According to Lalu, there are a lot of beautiful girls in the deaf community who can do everything and should be encouraged to add meaningful contributions to the society
‘‘We will work with our partners and the deaf women community to ensure inclusion of this girls, to ensure that we harness all their talents for meaningful development of the country’’ he said.
Speaking earlier Organizer/Coordinator MBDGN, Janet Fasakin noted that the initiative is an avenue to echo the issues bedeviling deaf women and girls thereby promoting the deaf rights in Nigeria.
According to Fasakin, deaf women and girls have continued to push for inclusion in the society as issues relating to the deaf community have remained underreported adding that disability does not mean inability.
Fasakin noted that there are a lot of deaf girls who are beautiful and talented with untapped abilities adding that behind the fashion, beauty and glamour is the advocacy.
‘‘the purpose of the Most Beautiful Deaf Girl in Nigeria is to promote, advocate and create awareness for deaf rights and dignity through highlight pressing issues and the plight of the deaf community in Nigeria.
‘‘We have the linguistic and cultural rights which seeks to adopt and recognize sign language as an official language to promote respect for the deaf.
‘‘Also, the Deaf Culture, MBDGN will be used in promoting the need for respect and inclusion for the deaf. We are also pushing for Equal Access to Education, Access to Health Care Services, Political Inclusion, the rights of deaf people to vote and be voted for, and Economic inclusion, we are using this medium to promote economic inclusion which is equal rights in the business environment, access to loan and other financial incentives’’ she said.
She however added that the MBDGN has been invited to take part in the World Pageant in Tanzania later in the year and will make an indelible mark in the history of the deaf community in Nigeria and the Disability community in general.
Furthermore, Program Officer Deaf Resource Centre, Victoria Adewola said that Deaf Women and Girls if not given the needed visibility the SDGs milestone of 2030 will never be achieved.
Adewola noted that deaf women form a very significant number of women around the world and they are inundated with common problems that relate to women in general, but also more specific issues relating to their hearing impairment and lack of access to information.
‘‘The continuous global awareness on women’s right and promotion of women’s dignity however does not include the specific challenges of Deaf Women. Deaf Women and girls continue to face barriers in health, education and employment. Gender-based violence among Deaf women and girls are on the increase and most of these cases go unreported, leaving Deaf victims uncompensated and victimized.
‘‘For this reason, Deaf Resources Center was established to re-echo the silent issues hindering the progress of Deaf people, seek for collaboration and partnership with the general public to create opportunities that will empower them and give them a stronger voice.
‘‘This we do believe that the most beautiful Deaf girl in Nigeria is set to achieve. We will continue to keep the legacy of our mentor and leader, the late Jonathan Tinat, from whom we drew our strength and inspiration to promote equal opportunity for all Deaf people and to affirm the linguistic and cultural rights of the Deaf and respect it.
‘‘We join all the Deaf people in the world and wish them happy international Day of Sign Languages’’ she said.
This press conference is in preparation of the second edition of the Most Beautiful Deaf Girl in Nigeria Pageant, slated for Saturday, 17 September in Abuja.