I am Generation Equality because
Lois Auta is resilient. At just two years old, she was affected by polio and has been living with disability ever since.
“I see my disability as an opportunity to change the world,” Lois says. “Disability will not stop me from achieving my dreams.”
Speaking up and advocating for herself and others with disabilities led Lois to pursue a career in politics.
“I am a voice for the vulnerable, particularly for women and girls with disabilities, because I want to see their rights [fulfilled] and I want to see their issues being addressed and mainstreamed in the government’s agenda,” she says. “That’s why I speak up and stand up for women’s rights.”
“Disability will not stop me from achieving my dreams.”
Women’s political participation matters for disability inclusion
The underrepresentation, stigmatization and discrimination against persons with disabilities moved Lois to run for office in Nigeria. After being invited to a political meeting by a friend, she decided to run for Nigeria’s House of Representatives in 2019.
“I saw this as a huge opportunity because I became a reference point for people with disability in elections. My family was also happy because being a woman with a disability, I was changing the status quo for women.”
Although her 2019 campaign was unsuccessful, Lois is not discouraged.
“I know I could have made a huge difference if elected,” she says. “Yes, I failed, but I made history by running for office as the first woman with disability. That bold action has inspired millions of young people, women and persons with disabilities to run for future elections.”
For Lois, women’s political participation and leadership is an essential part of progress towards equality and inclusion. She believes it’s on everyone to boost and embolden women’s leadership.
“Women in politics and decision-making should be encouraged and supported,” she says. “The older women should mentor the younger women… [we need to] train women in politics to build their capacity; set up funds for women in politics; pass and implement laws in favour of [women’s participation]; appoint more women in all the sectors. And above all, elect women.”
Lois plans to run again in the future. “This whole chapter has reinforced my belief that all of us, as busy as our lives are, need to make time for greater causes,” she says. “I want to change the world. I want to challenge the status quo.”
Photo credits (header image):
Lois Auta. Photo: UN Women/Nathan Ali
Three actions you can take to be part of Generation Equality:
Educate girls and women and invest in women
Vote for women and girls
Join the conversation using #GenerationEquality