International Day of Persons with Disabilities highlights the journey of two Mastercard Foundation Scholars making an impact in their own way

By Taigu Muchiri and Tonya Reid

Globally, the International Day of Persons with Disabilities is observed on December 3 to promote the rights and well-being of persons with disabilities at all levels in society. This year’s theme ‘Leadership and participation of persons with disabilities toward an inclusive, accessible, and sustainable post-COVID-19 world’ ensures that no person living with disability is left behind. With the disruption brought about the by the COVID-19 pandemic, we have witnessed several gains in healthcare, education lost as a result of restricted movement in order to contain the spread of the virus and this has especially been the case for persons with disabilities and they face several challenges as they access these critical services.

The United Nations estimates that in Africa, 80 to 90 percent of persons with disabilities of working age are unemployed, and school enrollment for young people with disabilities in Africa is estimated to be only 5-10% (African Studies Centre, 2018).

Inclusive education is a key contributor to a country’s productivity and economic growth. Creating prosperity across the continent will require leaders of all backgrounds and experiences who will work to ensure that the emerging economic and social benefits are available to all.

Mastercard Foundation Scholars Program is focused on developing the next generation of ethical leaders, so it is essential that we intentionally focus on youth for which barriers to education are especially difficult.

Since the inception of the Mastercard Foundation Scholars Program at USIU-Africa in July 2020, we are on track to recruit a diverse and inclusive student body, which includes 5 percent of young men and women with disabilities and our goal is to recruit 7 percent (70 students) over 10 years. In September 2021, the first student with visual impairment enrolled into the program.

We interviewed two Mastercard Foundation Scholars, Faith Mwikali Musyoki pursing a Bachelor of Science in Applied Computer Technology and Hezborn Muiru Wangari pursing a Bachelor of Arts in International Relations who have embarked on their leadership journey here at USIU-Africa and are transforming the leadership narrative for persons living with disabilities.

Watch their journey here.

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