People with disabilities join the fight to end violence and harmful practices

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural (UNESCO) Regional Office for Southern Africa (ROSA) in partnership with the Ministry of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare (MoPSLSW) held a workshop in Kadoma to orientate members of the National Disability Board on the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), Sexual Gender Based Violence (SGBV), Harmful Practices (HP) and Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR).

The workshop brought together 13 members of the National Disability Board from different provinces of Zimbabwe as primary participants. Government officials from MoPSLSW and Ministry of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs as well as representatives from UNDP, UNESCO, UNICEF and UN Women also participated in the workshop.

Chief Director in the Ministry of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare, Mr. Clifford Matorera expressed the Government’s appreciation to all partners for promoting and articulating the rights of persons with disabilities in Zimbabwe. He said, “SGBV and HPs were more prevalent among women and girls with disabilities and the Spotlight Initiative had come at the right time to try and address this.”

Speaking during the official opening of the workshop, Mr Phinith Chanthalangsy, Head of the Social and Human Sciences Unit at UNESCO ROSA expressed UNESCO’s gratitude to the Government of Zimbabwe for its support, as well as to EU for funding the Spotlight Initiative, to make it possible to address SGBV, HP and SRHR issues for women and girls with disabilities.

“Gender equality and disability rights are building blocks for social justice and for the achievement of all internationally agreed development goals. We are pleased that disability rights are fully mainstreamed and addressed within this important Initiative,” said Mr Chanthalangsy.

The three-day workshop featured rich discussions facilitated by members of the National Disability Board. Mr. Fredson Mabhena, the Legal Advisor in MPSLSW presented on legal frameworks to address SGBV in Zimbabwe and highlighted some of the causes and contributing factors to SGBV.

“Gender based violence is not inevitable - it is literally man-made. The solution lies with strong cooperation among all of international actors, government, Civil Society Organisations, local authorities and citizens,” said Mr Mabhena.

The Board identified accessibility, capacity building, partnerships, data collection and management, awareness raising and resource mobilisation as some of the key areas that need to be addressed. On this basis, the members of the National Disability Board validated the terms of reference for a mission that will help develop a three-year strategic action plan to guide the implementation of the Board’s mandate.

“This is the first training we have had since we were appointed as Board members. This workshop opened our eyes when it comes to SGBV, HPs and SRHR and it allowed us to come up with an action points to be implemented until we finish our tenure,” said the Chairperson of the National Disability Board, Ms Mercy Maunganidze.

Zimbabwe is one of the eight countries in Africa selected to deliver the Spotlight Initiative, a comprehensive programme on ending all forms of Gender-Based Violence and Harmful Practices and to promote the Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights of women and girls.