By Joyce Mukucha and Anyway Yotamu
The United Nations in conjunction with The Space and Signs of Hope Trust are joining hands in spearheading the #I’m Able Initiative campaign that seeks to raise awareness throughout society regarding Persons with Disabilities (PWDs).
The initiative’s main thrust is targeted at combating prejudices, harmful practices, and negative perceptions while promoting the capabilities of PWDS and their contributions to national development.
In an interview with this publication, the Signs of Hope Trust Founder, Samantha Sibanda said her organisation was taking great strides in advocating for change in attitude in society towards PWDs as well as advocating for their self-representation.
“What we are seeing is a lot of prejudice and stereotypes concerning people with disabilities. We feel that this is high time for PWDs to represent themselves. Through this #I’m Able Initiative or movement, we are profiling young people with disabilities who are doing great work in their communities,” Sibanda said.
She said the representation of PWDs in Parliament indicated that there was still a huge gap in as much as leadership of PWDs is concerned in the august house.
“We only have two seats for PWDs in Parliament which is a quota and we feel this is not enough. So with this, I’m Able Initiative, we are looking forward to showing the political parties that PWDs also need to be included in terms of leadership and national development.”
In terms of inclusion, Sibanda bemoaned the fact that Zimbabwe does not have a working definition of disability which makes it difficult for PWDs to access leadership opportunities.
Through the I’m Able Initiative, Sibanda stressed that there was a need to showcase the abilities of PWDs because, in societies, people are dwelling more on the inabilities that PWDs may have or may face. She mentioned that there were no inclusive policies that give PWDs opportunities or communicate with them.
“We are saying they can take part and they are able to. I believe that at the end of this initiative, we would have addressed a lot of issues that include prejudice and stereotypes and also we will be able to visit people and know more about their policy and how can it be inclusive to people with disabilities. For now, there are no even manifestos that were translated into brailles or sign language. So we don’t know what the political parties are standing for, therefore we need an inclusive policy which is welcoming to everybody,” she said.
On the other hand, Sibanda mentioned that the organization was grateful following the appointment of Honourable Malinga as the Advisor to the President as they believe that plights of PWDs can be easily heard by the President since he works closely with him.
Concerning PWDs in rural areas, the partners are conducting an online survey which aims at ensuring that everyone is covered and included despite where they reside.