Sightsavers wins Zero Project award for work on political participation

December 2022

An innovative Sightsavers-supported inclusion project that promotes the rights of people with disabilities to participate in civic and political life in Cameroon and Senegal has won a global award.

The Zero Project awards recognise innovative disability inclusion projects from around the world and are announced ahead of International Day of People with Disabilities on 3 December.

Funded by Irish Aid, Sightsavers’ citizenship and political participation programme addresses the lack of representation and participation of people with disabilities in civic and political life in four regions in Senegal (Dakar, Louga, Kaolack and Kaffrine), and two regions in Cameroon (Centre and Far North).

The project aims to empower people with disabilities in local governance and leadership. When it began in 2017, there were very few people with disabilities in decision-making positions. Today, 204 people with disabilities are either elected local councillors, parliamentarians, senators or official representatives in local working groups, or have been included on political party lists in a position eligible for election for the first time.

Fatoumata Diouf, Sightsavers’ regional director for West Africa, said: “We’re delighted to receive this award. People with disabilities are often prevented from asserting their rights within public and political life. This project has made significant inroads to addressing that in Cameroon and Senegal and, by supporting people with disabilities to participate, will ensure that local services are disability inclusive and reflect their needs.”

Laurene Leclercq, Sightsavers’ global technical lead for education and social inclusion, said: “The right of people with disabilities to take part in decision-making at all levels is critical if they are to influence policies that affect their lives. That’s why we’re looking forward to scaling up this project with the governments of Cameroon and Senegal, who have both requested our support to expand the work.”

People with disabilities often lack the official documentation required to vote, which is why the project has supported them to obtain official documents. Women with disabilities often face additional discrimination, which is why the project has also supported networking between women with disabilities and women leaders and politicians.

The Zero Project awards will be presented at the Zero Project conference in Vienna in February 2023.

Disability rights are human rights

On International Day of People with Disabilities (3 December), we are reaffirming our call for equality around the world.

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Sightsavers’ political participation and citizenship work in Cameroon and Senegal is funded by Irish Aid.
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