USIU-Africa Gender Equity and Protection Office hosts workshop on Gender Sensitivity and Self-Advocacy for university students with disabilities

By Racheal Ngumi

Last Friday, the Office of Gender Equity and Protection in collaboration with the Office of Disability Inclusion hosted a workshop on gender sensitivity and self-advocacy for students with disabilities. The workshop, which was attended by over 100 Scholars and facilitated by Ms. Racheal Ngumi and Ms. Pamela Marigu, saw the participants taken through the nuances of gender-inclusive language, providing students with disabilities a platform to cultivate skills that contribute to a more inclusive academic environment.

The Scholars were taken through the description, importance and types of gender- sensitive language, which refers to using terms and expressions that avoid bias and stereotypes based on gender. It promotes inclusivity and equality for persons with disabilities in the learning environment.

“Gender Sensitive Language is essential in shaping how people perceive the world and helps people build cultural and social understanding in society. Our communication contributes to the attitudes and norms we have in society. The use of gender-sensitive language is one way to promote gender equality, break down gender stereotypes and barriers and change social and cultural attitudes,” said Ms. Marigu.

During the session, the Scholars got the opportunity to delve into self-advocacy and how to nurture their skills in the area to better advocate for themselves.

The term self-advocacy and its philosophy was born in Sweden in the 1960s, when young adults with disabilities began speaking out and taking control of their own lives by forming their own leisure clubs. National conferences for these club members were held in 1968 and 1970, wherein participants developed statements about how they wanted to be treated. In light of this, the term self-advocacy is defined as the ability to articulate one’s needs and make informed decisions about the support necessary to meet those needs.

The facilitator, Ms. Racheal Ngumi encouraged the Scholars to practice self-advocacy, noting that it would allow them to clearly ask for what they need, which in turn would empower them to make the necessary plans to achieve their goals.

“Learning self-advocacy for reasonable accommodations ensures that you will receive what you need in order to be successful with assigned tasks not only in your personal but also your professional lives. Through self-advocacy, you will be able to enjoy a higher quality of life, as you will build your self-esteem and have confidence in yourselves, know how to properly express your feelings as you become more empowered to make your own decisions,” she said.

The workshop underscored USIU-Africa's commitment to creating an inclusive campus environment that prioritizes the needs of every student. The Office of Gender Equity and Protection Office and the Office of Disability Inclusion are committed to championing campus-wide initiatives that promote inclusivity and empower students to navigate their academic journey with confidence.