The Initiative for Research, Innovation and Advocacy in Development (IRIAD) and The Electoral Hub commemorates the International Day of Persons with Disabilities 2021 by celebrating persons with disabilities (PWDs) across the world. Our efforts to empower PWDs the following:

  • Conducting research and advocacy to promote the inclusion of PWDs in the electoral and democratic process.
  • Engaging INEC’s Gender and Inclusivity Department and providing support to promote the rights of PWDs.

The International Day of Persons with Disabilities is celebrated annually on 3 December. It was proclaimed in 1992 by the United Nations General Assembly “to promote an understanding of disability issues and mobilize support for the dignity, rights and well-being of persons with disabilities”.

It is estimated that over 1 billion people (about 15% of the world’s population) have some form of disability. Despite this large population, there are inadequate mechanisms to meet the needs of PWDs. It is important to note that disability does not refer to the physical, mental or other impairment a person might have. Rather, it refers to the interaction between that impairment and environmental/social factors, such as inaccessible buildings, stigmatisation, and so on. This means that societies have a large role to play in ensuring the meaningful participation of PWDs.

The theme of the International Day of Persons with Disabilities 2021 is “Leadership and participation of persons with disabilities toward an inclusive, accessible and sustainable post-COVID-19 world.” This theme is anchored on the fact that the COVID-19 pandemic has further increased the vulnerability of PWDs. This is because they might have underlying conditions that increase their risk of contracting the virus, or they might have limited knowledge of how to stay safe during the pandemic due to the lack of accessible information.

In the Nigerian context, the situation of PWDs is no different. According to estimates, over 25 million Nigerians have a disability. Despite the passing of the Discrimination Against Persons with Disabilities (Prohibition) Act 2018, PWDs still face many challenges in Nigeria. These include inaccessible buildings, limited access to employment, and stereotypes fueled by others in the society. In the electoral sphere, the inclusion of PWDs is also minimal. There are very few PWDs who are politicians, and there is little to no representation of PWDs in elective and appointive offices. Even in their participation as voters, the needs of PWDs are not fully met, as they are not always given priority voting, and assistive materials are not always available.

In line with the theme of this year’s International Day of Persons with Disabilities, we urge stakeholders to make more efforts promote the leadership and participation of PWDs in every aspect of society. Governments must develop and implement policies targeted at PWD inclusion. Legislatures must develop laws aimed at improving the status of PWDs and protecting them from discrimination. CSOs and the media must organise sensitisation and awareness-raising campaigns aimed at changing stereotypes about PWDs.

As we urge these stakeholders to continue to work towards promoting the status of PWDs, we are hopeful that PWDs will become better able to participate meaningfully in society, and increase their representation in governance.

Princess Hamman-Obels | Founder and Director, IRIAD and The Electoral Hub
Phone: +234 9121551331 and +234 9086998850
Email: and
Twitter/Instagram : @iriadev and @electoralhub
Facebook: @iriadev and @electoralhubng
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