WATCH | After enduring stigma for being blind: Fefoame is advocating equality for people with disabilities

At just 10 years old, Gertrude Fefoame began experiencing vision loss. Four years later, she went blind.

Living in Ghana, she endured stigma and discrimination which people with disabilities are regularly subjected to.

“There is a misconception in most parts of Africa that one would have a disability as a result of one's ill deeds,” Fefoame says.

She internalised this prejudice, feeling gradually isolated. But after attending a school for people with blindness and meeting others with similar experiences, she gained new confidence and belief in herself.

Now, Fefoame has dedicated her life to making the world more accessible for people with disabilities.

Many Ghanaian children have not had the same opportunities as Fefoame to attend school.

“There was no inclusive education system in the country for children with visual impairments,” she says.

As an advocacy adviser for social inclusion at Sightsavers, Fefoame works with key stakeholders to make and amend policies that enable equality.

Together they work with communities to change the way disabilities are viewed.

By providing disadvantaged communities with eye care, Fefoame and the NGO are striving to prevent avoidable blindness as well as advocate for the rights of persons with disabilities.

“We have the tools and solutions to enable children to reach their potential, we just need to use them,” Fefoame says.

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With over four decades of advocacy experience, Fefoame is also a member of the UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

Her work on the Equal World campaign urges governments and leaders to attend the Global Disability Summit, engage with the people that their policies affect, and make commitments that will result in lasting change.

In 2021, the summit awarded Fefoame with the World Blind Union Women’s Empowerment Award for her efforts in social inclusion and disability rights.

Everyone deserves to be a part of and contribute to society, and Fefoame is making it possible for anyone to attain their dreams.

“To achieve equality, the needs of people with disabilities should be continually considered and included,” she says.

You can contribute to the work of Sightsavers here.

Footage and images by Sightsavers were used in the creation of this film.