DWI Strive to Curb Violence Against Women and Girls with Disabilities

A research carried out by DWI  indicates that women and girls with disabilities have limited opportunities to access formal education and formal employment which makes them more vulnerable to GBV with men experiencing more physical violence than women.
By Joyce Mukucha.
HARARE – In an effort aimed at addressing Gender Based Violence (GBV), against People with Disabilities (PWDs), Deaf Women Included (DWI), an organisation which facilitates community dialogues on prevention of violence against women and girls with disabilities has engaged government departments working on Sexual Reproductive and Health Rights policy to pave a way on strategies of building inclusive and accessible services for women and girls with disabilities at risk or who are survivors of violence.
Working hand in glove, it has been learnt, between organisations for PWDs and government particularly Members of Parliament (MPs) who represent PWDs can help in taking all appropriate measures to ensure the full development, advancement and empowerment of women and girls to guarantee them the exercise and enjoyment of human rights particularly accessing justice and GBV services.
Speaking during a sensitization meeting on violence against women and girls with disabilities on the 20th of May 2021 in Harare, DWI Director Agness Chindimba said research findings indicate that women and young girls with disabilities were facing double discrimination when trying to access GBV services and she stressed the need to craft solid solutions to ensure that they are included and supported.
She reiterated that women and girls with disabilities were being left behind in development processes and their needs and priorities not included in service provision.
“When it comes to women and girls with disabilities, we have realised that they are subject to multiple discrimination and there is need for government to closely work with us in taking measures to ensure full and equal enjoyment by them of all human rights and fundamental freedoms.
“There is lack of provision for assistance and support, there are a lot of barriers such as lack of awareness, lack of funding, lack of adequate human resources, inappropriate policies and institutional frameworks, inadequate and unresponsive services and poor service coordination. Thus, we have seen it imperative to engage Members of Parliament so that we can find ways to close those existing gaps, guaranteeing that women and girls with disabilities are not insecure but safe,” she said.
Chindimba highlighted that the language used to describe PWDs also have an impact on their lives and urged people to use appropriate language which does not demean them or take away their self confidence.
She added that in as much as disability inclusion is concerned, it was important to ensure that women and girls with disabilities have proper living conditions, formal education, formal employment, formal and informal support and also get a chance to be involved in recreation and social activities as well as being accepted and recognised as individuals beyond disability.

Hwange Central Legislator, Honourable Daniel Molokele (MDC – Alliance)
A Member of Parliament for Hwange Central Constituency, Honourable Daniel Molokele said inclusion was a an important issue which should not be ignored as he underscored the need for PWDs to stand bold and speak their minds when it comes to representation and support they need in accessing GBV services.
“It is important to have strategies of promoting inclusive services and information for women and girls with disabilities. In the House of Assembly, there should be equal representation for people with disabilities and the debates on disability issues should be taken seriously. We can see that in the house of senate, everyone is getting a slice but the disability sector is being excluded. There should be a disability policy in parliament public hearings. As a Member of Parliament, I urge DWI to have MP models who will impart disability knowledge to other MPs and I also encourage you to have someone who speaks your disability agenda so that your issues are not neglected as well as have champions willing to identify themselves in public spaces with their disabilities so that it can inspire other PWDs out there, ” said Honourable Molokele.
He also stressed the need for disability based organisations to come up with better ways of engagement such as involvement of media and thoroughly train them to amplify voices concerning disability issues.
Every ministry and institution, he said, ought to become disability friendly to ensure that women and girls are not left behind in development processes as well as ensuring that their needs and priorities are included in service provision especially accessing GBV services.
Another MP for Gokwe Sasame Constituency(Midlands), Honourable Godern Chanda said they were going to advocate all the challenges faced with PWDs in all sectors.
“In all sectors like the work place, in the distribution of food and land, PWDs are side-lined as they are being taken for granted yet they are also people like us who are able bodied. So as MPs, we are have learnt a lot during this meeting and we are going to educate our people to take these people as human beings and treat them equally and ensure that GBV against women and girls is curbed as well as making sure that the victims easily access justice and services they need.”
Nasper Manyau, Chief Executive Officer and Founder of Arret Foundation Trust pointed out that disability issues were falling on deaf ears and there was need for government to work tirelessly together with disability oriented organisations in coming up with mechanisms and policies that support full support of women and girls living with disabilities.
According to Manyau, women with disabilities are facing challenges in their day to day lives especially those in marriages who are encountering abuse from their spouses and find themselves without the courage to report such cases fearing that the courts of law and policy makers will not take them seriously and address their issues.
She highlighted the importance and need of improving collaborations between mainstream GBV service providers, organisations for PWDs and other stakeholders in promoting inclusive and responsive services.
“For the vice to be eradicated, there is need to have Victim Friendly Units in the police department which specifically deal with cases of PWDs who are experiencing violence. There is need for GBV service providers to be given necessary support by government to ensure that their services are accessible to women and girls with disabilities,” she said.
A research carried out by DWI also indicates that women and girls with disabilities have limited opportunities to access formal education and formal employment which makes them more vulnerable to GBV with men experiencing more physical violence than women.
Findings also reveal that communication was a major challenge for PWDs for they fail to access proper channels to air out their concerns as well as accessing justice.
Other participants pointed out the need to have functional and social legal systems that promote women and girls with disabilities against discrimination and the need to advance gender equality and women’s empowerment.
DWI is an organisation founded in 2013 after deaf women and their allies realised that they were being left behind in development processes and their needs priorities not included in service provision.
The organisation has been playing a key role in promoting access to sexual and reproductive health services and information for women and girls with disabilities ,strengthening inclusive GBV prevention and response mechanisms as well as facilitating community dialogues on prevention of violence against women and girls with disabilities.
Members of Parliament participating at a sensitization meeting on violence against women and girls with disabilities in Harare. Picture by Gladman Chikwari.

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