Disability Observer 2022 Issue 3

Motion to setup Parliamentary Caucus on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities adopted

By Isaacs Mwale

Since the year 2020, Deaf Zimbabwe Trust has been advocating with the Parliament of Zimbabwe for the establishment of a Parliamentary Disability Caucus. On the 5th of April Parliament approved a motion to establish a Parliamentary Disability Caucus. The motion was led by Bikita South Member of Parliament Josiah Sithole who is part of the Parliamentary Working Group on Disability, which was convened by Deaf Zimbabwe Trust in 2019.

People with disabilities have struggled to access simple services and facilities that are open to the general public such as Justice, Health Care Services, Primary, Secondary and Tertiary Education, Public Transportation, Housing and farming programmes, information, Recreational Facilities, Formal Employment, scholarships, loans etc.

Over the last 8 years there have been great signs of hope with the ratification of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities, Inclusive Provisions in the Constitution, an inclusive Education Amendment Act, The recently launched National Disability Policy and the inclusive Children Amendment Bill.

Unfortunately for people with disabilities inclusive policies and progressive statutes have done little to change the reality of their struggles and these struggles and hardships have intensified and gotten worse over the last 2 years due to poor implementation of policies and also due to the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Disability Caucus will ensure that Persons with Disabilities have a voice during the formulation of laws and policies. Currently, disability issues fall under the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Public Service and Social Welfare.

The caucus will also enhance the visibility of persons with disabilities and advance their access to socio-economic rights in Zimbabwe.


By Samantha Gwerevende

Deaf Zimbabwe Trust working with the Victim friendly Unit and the Judiciary Service Commission is working on the development of Disability Identity Stickers to foster readiness of the Justice System in dealing with persons with disabilities. The Stickers , a first of its kind in Zimbabwe will close gaps that exist on how to handle and best prepare to better accommodate persons with disabilities when the docket is opened and taken to court. We combat issues and situations better when we are best prepared for them.

This initiative will foster inclusion and better understanding on the needs of the persons with disabilities in the Justice system. When a sticker showing their disability is displayed on a docket, when attending to the matter everyone in the system will know what provisions and accommodations they need to make in the interests of the person with the disability.

One example is that if a person is Deaf/Hard of Hearing and the disability identity sticker is on the docket, the policemen are able to make provisions for a Sign Language interpreter for better communication in their next meeting. This will then continue to the courts, when the court receives the docket with a disability identity sticker they will make provisions for a Sign Language interpreter in the court sessions. This will foster a level of preparedness that is not only beneficial to persons with disabilities but it also promotes efficiency in the court system and creates trust in the justice system.  

Remembering women with disabilities in the economic empowerment conservation

Pic Credit-https://newint.org/blog/2014/03/07/women-disabilities-double-oppression

By Isaacs Mwale 

Women and girls with disabilities are often subjected to marginalization, attitudinal and environmental barriers that lead to lower economic and social status. They face increased risk to violence and abuse, including sexual violence; discrimination as well as harmful gender-based discriminatory practices. Barriers to access to education, health care, including sexual and reproductive health, information and services, and justice as well as civic and political participation hinder their participation on an equal basis with others.[1]

Zimbabwe along with other United Nations members committed to the first ever universal, ambitious and comprehensive 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and its 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Promising to ‘leave no one behind’, the 2030 Agenda holistically addresses issues across the three interrelated environmental, economic and social dimensions of sustainable development. Gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls – including young women, are confidently asserted in the Agenda as intrinsic to progress.[2]

Indeed the issue of economic empowerment is integral to many young women with disabilities and their hope of breaking free from the multiple forms of discrimination that they face on a daily basis. Affording young women and girls with disabilities greater economic empowerment opportunities means enabling them to increase their right to economic resources and their control over meaningful decisions that benefit them, their households and their communities. These include the right to control their own time, their income and access to participation in existing markets equally.

Greater empowerment improves their well-being and economic status. A study from the IMF revealed that policies that improve access to educational opportunities and finance for women can contribute to a reduction in inequality and an increase in economic growth for the developing country. Providing women and girls with more educational opportunities contributes to: “reductions in fertility rates and increases in labour force participation rates, and in which thereby better quality of human capital of the future economy and generations.”[3]

[1] https://www.unwomen.org/en/digital-library/publications/2018/12/the-empowerment-of-women-and-girls-with-disabilities

[2] https://www.kcl.ac.uk/news/women-are-the-key-to-economic-development-in-third-world-countries

[3] Ibid.