International Women’s Day is the time when women are recognized for their achievements without respect to divisions or abilities. Today we celebrate a future in which innovation and technology creates unprecedented opportunities for women and girls to play an active role in building more inclusive systems and accelerate gender equality. Every year, on the 8th March, International Women’s Day (IWD) is commemorated to honor women’s achievements and contributions to cultural, political, social, and economic growth. It is also recognized for raising public awareness about women’s rights and gender equality. As Leonard Cheshire disability Zimbabwe, we managed to speak to one of our members of the disability community, who gave us their views of what this auspicious day means to them.
Patience Muronzi, a lady who suffers from albinism, was asked what the theme of the day, Choose to Challenge, meant to her as a person with a disability and this is what she had to say. “For a person with a disability… nothing is ever easy. Going to school, accessing health facilities or accessing justice. Everything, really. This theme is a call to all persons with disabilities that even though life is not going to be easy you [have to] rise to the challenges.”
In the disability community, girls and women are faced with different kinds of challenges on a daily basis, especially in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic. Take for instance Patience. Due to restrictions on movement that were set before, and the need for exemption letters to travel, she was not able to walk the 5km distance to her nearest clinic. This meant that it was very difficult for her to access sexual and reproductive health services or to visit her local pharmacy. Ways of earning income also became low but she still chose to challenge and beat the odds.
With the help of Leonard Cheshire Disability Zimbabwe, Patience Muronzi has managed to represent persons with disabilities on a regional and international level. She took part in the 25th International Conference on Population and Development and the Africa Regional Forum on Sustainable Development where she spoke about disability and SDGs (Sustainable Development Goals). She was also involved in numerous researches to ensure the voice of people with disabilities is captured to say the least. “I was a member of the Young Voices group. A program that empowered me not only to speak about my rights but to advocate for the rights of all people with disabilities” says Patience.
As we celebrate women’s rights all over the world today, Patience’s had this to say to girls and women with disabilities; “Let’s choose to challenge the status quo this year… learn about [your] rights, because in as much as l can talk about rights on different platforms it will be in vain if [you] can’t claim them.” Women and girls around the world, especially those with disabilities, are defying all odds while breaking traditional gender bias and stereotypical views about themselves. With the help of organizations such as Leonard Cheshire Disability Zimbabwe, they have proved that women really can do it all, regardless of their impairment. They still continue to challenge gender inequality and create an inclusive world for persons with disabilities.