Gertrude Oforiwa Fefoame of Ghana has been elected as the new chair of the UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) – making her the first African woman to lead the committee.
Fefoame, who is also Sightsavers’ global advocacy manager for social inclusion, was elected to the position during the CRPD’s 28th session held in Geneva, Switzerland. The meeting took place on 7 March, the day before the world marks International Women’s Day.
A lifelong disability rights advocate and champion of inclusive education, particularly for girls with disabilities, Fefoame has been a member of the committee since 2018. She was first nominated for the role by the government of Ghana. She originally joined the CRPD following the Sightsavers Equal UN campaign, which has called for gender equality on UN committees since 2016.
Sightsavers’ deputy CEO, Dom Haslam, said: “This is an incredible recognition of Gertrude’s commitment and dedication to the rights of persons with disabilities, particularly women and girls. Getty is a true force for the realisation of the Convention and I have no doubt will lead the work of the committee with the same energy and passion that she shows every day in her work for Sightsavers.”
In her new role as chair of the CRPD, Fefoame will lead the committee in its mission to promote, protect, and monitor the implementation of the rights of persons with disabilities around the world. This includes overseeing the implementation of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, which has been ratified by over 180 countries.
The election has coincided with the release of a new report which showed that since 1945 only 12% of leaders of 33 major multilateral institutions have ever been women. This includes organisations like the UN and the World Bank.