Sightsavers is committed to protecting sight (75% of vision loss could be prevented) and fighting for disabilities rights. Advocating for the rights of those with vision loss/blindness and the diversity of those individuals is key. The United Nations Disability Committee monitors the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. Recently, 17 women and 13 men were nominated for placement in the nine positions vacant on this committee – elections will be held on June 12, 2018 in New York. The 18-member committee has attracted criticism for its lack of gender parity and with only one woman and 17 men. It is likely the demographics of this committee will change drastically in June 2018.
The 17 women nominated represent a diverse group of nations, hailing from Australia, Barbados, Brazil, Ghana, Guatemala, Ecuador, Egypt, Indonesia, Iraq, Kuwait, Mexico, Montenegro, Panama, Poland, the Republic of Korea, Sudan and Ukraine. This increased representation of women aligns with the committee’s recent statement: “The committee is concerned about this absence of gender parity, particularly given that one of the principles of the Convention which traverses all provisions and which guides the committee’s work is equality between men and women.” The committee then encouraged the United Nations’ membership to mindful of the need for increased gender diversity in putting forth nominations for membership.
Gertrude Oforiwa Fefoame, Sightsaver’s Advocacy Advisor for Social Inclusion is one of the 17 women nominated, representing her home nation of Ghana. With over 28 years of experience as an advocacy leader in the area of disabilities and gender issues, she is hopeful to continue her advocacy as a member of this UN Committee.
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