The Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), together with the Inter-Ministerial Committee (IMC), met with members of stakeholders and other organizations at the Monomotapa hotel on the 29th of September 2020, providing a platform for the Youth With Disabilities (YWD) to highlight the challenges they face while the CRPD gave feedback on their state party report to the other organizations. Representatives of the Disabled People’s Organizations (DPOs), Disability Service Organizations (DSOs), Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) and Honorable Senator Rejoice Timire were present as members of the YWD from Bindura, Rushinga and Shamva District highlighted the challenges that they faced with access to Education, Justice, Health, Information, Political Participation and Economic Participation.
The event, which was funded by European Union, saw YWDs in the three districts raising issues of concern on the lack of sign language as a form of communication as it has caused communication barriers in schools and during vital meetings, it also leads to misrepresentations in courts and violation of privacy in hospitals due to failure of staff members being unable to communicate with their clients and patients effectively requiring the need of a third party. The need for infrastructural redevelopment is still an issue of great concern among the YWDs as most buildings in schools, courtrooms and even some hospitals, along with their equipment such as beds have not been altered to cater for people living with disabilities.
Lack of vital information in newspapers, flyers and newsletters in accessible formats is also one of the challenges the YWDs still face in the health and information sector, especially during the prior COVID-19 pandemic which hit the whole world by storm, and the justice wing fails to provide documents in accessible formats for the accused. Other vital issues that were raised by the YWDs were the lack of representation of people with disabilities in the National Council of Higher Education, limited presentation in the Senate in political participation and lack of access to bank loans for businesses and job opportunities.
Meanwhile, the IMC and the Chair of the CRPD shared their progress on the CRPD State Party Report in Zimbabwe which was submitted for the first time in seven years after ratification instead of in 2015 due to a number of challenges that they faced which included data capturing. Data capturing has proved to be the biggest challenge for the IMC as they have failed to capture the highlights of the past couple of years. Appealing to the other various organizations to assist with information to help them capture data faster, the IMC is also conducting consultations with relevant stakeholders. In other news a representative from Rushing District, Mr Joseph Chiputura, announced a new DPO called Chimhanda Disability Organization which was formed in 2020 with the help of DAPP and LCDZ, to bridge the gap that existed on the inclusion of people with disability on development mainstreaming.
The newly formed DPO, comprising of 45 members (51% disabled and 49% non disabled) aims to have the people of Rushinga view everyone as an equal regardless of having an ability or not and while on the bid to do that they have already managed to start some activities to support the DPO members such as baking, were they are able to produce 120 loaves a day.