By Etienne Mainimo Mengnjo
More than 200 youths from various backgrounds have been tasked with advocating for the rights of persons living with disabilities, or PWDs.
This is the outcome of a two-day intensive training that took place in Yaounde from September 29 to 30. The two-day intensive training is a continuation of a 15-day workshop and training, which is part of a 50-day advocacy role for youths in human rights and the rights of persons living with disabilities.
The program is coordinated by Betty Nancy Fonyuy, Human Rights Activist and International Visitors Leadership Program IVLP fellow.
While emphasizing the need for everyone to be involved in addressing disability as a societal issue, Betty Fonyuy stated that those children with disabilities often feel marginalized, stigmatized, and traumatized due to their inability to fully participate in society and express their challenges.
Recognizing disability as a human rights problem, Batty Fonyuy organized the 50-day program to educate people, bridging the gap between those with and without disabilities to foster understanding and empathy.
According to the organizers, the training is set to empower participants to advocate for the rights of PWDs in their communities. Believing that involving youths in the program is crucial as they are active members of society who can help spread awareness through social media and personal interactions, Betty Fonyuy stressed that the aim is to create a society where disability is not seen as a taboo but as a normal aspect of human rights that affects the nation as a whole.
Eliot Etonde N. Ndeley, one of the facilitators, emphasized the importance of the training, highlighting the multiple barriers faced by PWDs in accessing their basic needs and the absence of reporting on human rights abuses against them.
She added that the program is geared towards mobilizing over 200 advocates to sensitize the community about the rights and challenges faced by PWDs. “By doing so, the program seeks to promote social cohesion, inclusion in policies, structures, and businesses, and create awareness about the rights of PWDs.”
Meanwhile, participants expressed their determination to become advocates for PWDs, indicating that they would, among other things, create social media content and mobilize other youths.
In mobilizing over 200 young Cameroonians, the three-month program that ends in November will enrich their ability to advocate for the rights of PWDs in their communities.
Among others, the program, which started in September 2023, involves training workshops, community outreach, and the establishment of youth-led advocacy initiatives. The program covers various topics such as understanding disabilities, a multifaceted approach, civil and human rights, gender-based violence and protection for PWDs, and equally addressing hate speech against PWDs.
In addition, topics such as challenges faced by youth in advocacy roles, understanding the rights and duties of PWDs, social cohesion and inclusion for PWDs, advocating for the rights of PWDs through social media, self-advocacy training for PWDs, and accessing their rights were also on the menu.