Gertrude Oforiwa Fefoame, Sightsavers’ Advocacy Adviser for Social Inclusion, is one of 17 women from six continents who are up for election in 2018 to the UN disability committee. This is the result of a call for improved representation of gender on the disability committee of the united nations as well as the call for a better geographical spread. In addition, 13 men have been nominated to the UN committee which will monitor the CRPD, Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. The election is to be held on June 12, 2018 in New York.
According to Sightsavers the committee of 18 members, which has been criticized for lack of gender parity, has nine positions open for election. Only one woman was elected to the committee in 2016 with 17 men elected. In 2017, a published statement from the committee expressed concern about the absence of gender parity considering that one of its principles focuses on male and female equality. The statement further called for States Parties to promote geographical balance and inclusion for future elections.
Fefoame expressed in her May 2018 post on the Sightsavers website, that the existence of the CRPD is to defend and to uphold the rights of disabled people all over the world. She stated further that because of this, the responsibility of the committee to support member states is vital. In particular, women with disabilities have lacked representation. Issues such as reproductive health, gender-based violence, and justice barriers are more likely to be addressed when women take roles in monitoring bodies.