By Joyce Mukucha
Signs of Hope Trust a Zimbabwe held a meeting with persons with disabilities to teach them on the importance of participating in the electoral processes.
Speaking during the occasion to celebrate women with disabilities held on the 9th of March 2018 in Harare, Samantha Sibanda, the founder of Signs of Hope said her organisation was committed to ensuring the inclusion of persons with disabilities in national development programmes and to raise awareness on their plight.
Soneni Sibanda, the International Ambassador for Action on Disability and Development, an organisation based in the United Kingdom, who also has a disability, said there was a lot which needed to be done in order to address challenges those women encounter.
She encouraged women to thrive for the best without allowing any boundaries to limit their strength.
“I believe that as women with disabilities you face many challenges but today I want you to know that whenever you see a mountain, there is something bigger. Sometimes systems will not be in agreement with what you want to achieve but that should not hinder you to reach your destination.
“We are living in a new Zimbabwe where everybody can fit in. Time for sympathy has come to an end therefore you should rise and practice your rights of voting as well as participate as candidates in the electoral process. You as women, you represent each part of this country so keep the pride that you have,” Gwizi said.
Advocate Fadzayi Mahere the aspiring Member of the House of Assembly for Mt Pleasant Constituency said women with disabilities were like everybody else in communities who have the same needs so they needed the same treatment.
She tackled the problems women with disabilities encounter when it comes to participating in elections and politics.
“The first problem our women are facing is lack of information and knowledge. The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission does not have a clear platform which caters for people with disabilities in voter registration. At the registration centres, we find out that there is nobody to assist people with morbidity issues who will be in need of such help. These women need to be well represented so that they fully participate and be able to choose the leader they want as well as campaign for themselves. The reason that they are disabled doesn’t mean that they should be intimidated or disillusioned, they must know that voting brings change to their future,” Mahere said.
She said these women are double-disadvantaged because the voting environment is not friendly and some of them will even fail to reach to the polling stations because they can’t access assistance.
For women with disabilities who are in marriage, Gwizi indicated it that they should not be abused or segregated.
“What is important is the state of well-being which is generated from staying happy and feeling love. Its unfortunate that sometimes women with disabilities allow the world to limit their goals because they cannot just say no to what does suit for them.”
Florence Mudzingwa, the founder of Hope Resurrect Trust who also has a disability emphasised that it was important for her fellow women to transform their own lives despite the fact that they have disabilities.
“It’s not an easy life when you have a disability. You stumble on the way but it is of importance to know that trying keep on expressing yourself will take you wherever you want to be. In as much as the 2018 harmonised elections are around the corner, let’s keep the ball rolling and let’s not wait for anyone to decide for us. It is our right to vote and participate to the fullest,” Mudzingwa said.
She added that women with disabilities can make themselves be recognised in the political arena as well as in communities if they remain strong and optimistic.
There are calls for the Government of Zimbabwe to address the needs of persons with disabilities. Women with disabilities appealed for inclusion on the 66 Parliamentary seats reserved for women.