Credits Image: Sèmèvo ZODO @PLACE for Africa, from left to right (Mr. SALAHOU YEKINI Abdoul-Wahab and Madame Déogratias Sessi DASSI MEHOU
The first universal right conferred on humanity by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) remains equality among people. To ensure the effectiveness of this equality, global institutions such as the United Nations have adopted relevant texts and conventions. These include the Convention for the Protection of Persons with a Disability, which honors diversity and human dignity. The essence of the Convention, both in the preamble and in the various articles, is that people living with a disability are entitled to the full fulfillment of human rights and fundamental freedoms without any discrimination. By prohibiting discrimination on the basis of disability and requiring reasonable accommodation to ensure equality with others, the Convention promotes the full and equal participation of persons with disabilities in all aspects of life.
However, despite these legal provisions, to which almost all states in the world have acceded, the situation of persons with disabilities remains a problem. Although Article 29 of the Convention emphasizes the need for persons with disabilities to be able to participate effectively and fully in political and public life, this category is left out of many public or policy decisions made by states, in this case African states. This state of affairs suggests a discriminatory view of disability and results in public policies that exclude people with disabilities. In several African countries, 80% of people with disabilities are not employed. Employers often believe that these people lack skills or are unable to work. When a crisis occurs, people with disabilities are the forgotten invisibles and most do not have a steady income because they are stigmatized when trying to find stable employment. Their daily lives are marked by insecurity resulting from a double exclusion, as they are inhibited and disadvantaged by a public system that offers them little access to basic services.
In Benin, says Lukman Lanignan, an expert on Corporate social responsibility, “…when a family has a person with a disability in their midst, it is considered shameful. When the family has visitors, they usually tend to hide the child with a disability.” This discriminatory and offending view of disability makes people who live with it extremely dependent on others. When this is the case, they often tend to withdraw themselves in order to better fit into society. This is in complete contradiction to the provisions of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. However, within this group of society, young leaders are emerging who have evolved and are positively impacting their community through their activities and initiatives to include people with disabilities in political, social, cultural and corporate life. They are now the spokespersons for those who can no longer bear the stigma of society.
Regretting that a person living with a disability is still seen as a burden to society and his family, the young leader Salahou Yekini Abdoul-Wahab has set out to make the promotion and development of people with disabilities in Benin his everyday mission. In this interview, we discuss the atypical journey of someone living with a disability in Benin with this young leader who lives with a physical disability without conforming to the stereotypes of those around him. The focus is on professional integration, participation in public life and decision-making bodies, and the social engagement of these people to improve their daily living conditions.
Text : Abdoul Boukari. Watch the whole interview here