Paza – Episode 5

PAZA Podcast

GBV during COVID-19: Exploring the realities of gender based violence among women with disabilities

Recorded Thursday June 25, 2020

Full Audio-Text Transcription

(MUSIC) Intro

Click above for Paza Episode 5 Audio file

Hi, I am Lizzie Kiama, welcome to PAZA! Conversations with women with disabilities globally. PAZA! a Swahili word meaning to amplify is an initiative by This-Ability Trust. PAZA! seeks documenting and creating visibility for the experiences of women and girls with disabilities

Join our conversation on Twitter @pazapodcast, you can also follow This-Ability of Twitter an Instagram @this_ability_ ke and on Facebook

Now, let’s get into today’s topic of discussion.

Lizzie: So let’s get into it. Thank you, ladies, for joining us on this podcast my name is Lizzie Kiama and I am the Managing Trustee at This-Ability Trust.

So I would like to thank you both very much for joining us this afternoon. And I guess I would ask you to introduce yourselves. Soneni, if you could just give us your name, your organization, if applicable, or the work that you do, very brief, and the country that you’re from, and then we’ll move on to Patience.

Soneni: Thank you so much, Lizzie; for inviting me to this space to come and share what women with disabilities have been experiencing due to COVID-19. I’m from Zimbabwe; I’m a broadcaster by profession,  I’m a speaker, I’m a poet and I’m also an ambassador for two organizations representing persons with disability. An international organization which is Action in Disability and Development and a local organization through the Ministry of Health in Zimbabwe Stop TB Zimbabwe, which basically is its own health matters. And I’m from Bulawayo, which is the second capital city of Zimbabwe.

Lizzie: Great, thank you. Patience?  A short description of who you are, where you’re from, and a little about the work that you do, or organization you represent?

Patience: I am Patience Dickson from Nigeria. I am from organization called Advocacy for Women with Disability Initiative; it is an organization that advances the cause of women and girls with disability, it’s also in national organization. I think just a few things about myself is that I’m the founder of this organization and I work closely with the government, I work closely with other stakeholders as well,  with MDAs like the ministries.

Lizzie: We wanted to also look at the leadership and the positivity that is the lives of women with disabilities. And with that, I think we would like to borrow from your lives and the leadership and innovation and creativity that you have lived life as women with disabilities and their resilience in that.

So I would start with you, Soneni. I understand you are known as being very modest in blowing your own trumpet and in the work that you do. But we all know particularly me on social media, I see you everywhere. So could you talk about some of your accomplishments, tell us a little more about what you’ve been doing and blow your own horn. Tell us about your work and who you are.

Soneni: Thank you, Lizzie. I believe that the most important factor, for someone with a disability, is first identify yourself; who you are while you are on earth. Why are in that particular area that you’re from? And why you carry that surname of your family? Once you understand that calling, then begin to pursue that. From as early as a little girl, I knew that I was going to be the voice of the voiceless because in everything that I did. I was born with a disability, even playing with my sisters, and my friends, I was always the one that is a speaker. If the girls are fighting, they would come to me and I narrate what happened. So I knew from that time that I was born to speak; and not just to speak nonsense, but to speak the truth to defend people to make sure that human right matters are always in the forefront for those that cannot speak for themselves. So, in simplicity, I view myself as a total human being. And particular being a woman, I see myself as a whole woman. And there is no difference between me and my able bodied sister. The only difference that we might have is the physical appearance and the height appearance. And yes, I do agree that the opportunities are totally different, particularly in the area that I chose; which is journalism and broadcasting, you will find out that the environment is not disability friendly. But that has not stopped me from pursuing my dream and my call – to become a speaker, to become a programme producer and to become the presenter of the programme that I want. So understanding who you are, and being faithful to the call, and also having some kind of faith and belief in yourself, why you’re here on Earth. That gives you the confidence to live another day, even if the world is against you. But you will know that you’re born for a purpose. And also having a family support; having families that believe in you, having colleagues that believe in you. Surround yourself with positive people all the time and link together and run for the common cause. It’s not easy being a disabled person, and worse being a woman, because you always on the secondary matter, whenever opportunities are there, you’re the last person that they think of. But that shouldn’t stop anyone from doing that. So, in a nutshell, I believe that I’m a game changer. I believe in myself and what I desire, and I believe it’s God’s call for my for myself, I run with it, and I know that is for the good and the cause for my country, my community and the world.

Lizzie: Wow. Thank you, Soneni. Patience, we know each other, we go way back in terms of our advocacy, but I think it would serve the listeners well, to get to know the powerhouse behind Patience Dickson. So please, could you maybe share the inspiration behind the initiative that you began the Advocacy for Women with Disabilities Initiative? What was the inspiration behind that?

Patience: Thank you so much, Lizzie. Like you rightly said, we’ve been working together for some time. The initiative I think is just built on experience of a woman with disability. It actually started from the experience of a girl child with disability, way back when I was very young. As a child, I didn’t have many opportunities; I just had few opportunities. I can’t say I wasn’t allowed to go to school, but I did not go to school on time. And I’m sure many of us know why – because disability in our own culture, especially in Nigeria, at that time when I was growing up, a child with disability was not actually seen as a child; she was seen as a different kind of child. And so as a different kind of child, that child is not allowed to also aspire to be like other children, in terms of education now. But I was just lucky, destiny played a good one on me and I was just lucky to have been found by someone who actually said nice things about why I should I should be educated and that was the power behind my life and it’s really pushed me forward. When I was registered in school, it was one the happiest moments of my life. And it brought me out to where I am today. That is why one of my whole philosophy is if you investing in a girl child with disability it is not a waste. It’s also definitely builds more on the women or that woman when she’s mature. Investing in this child, we definitely build a woman with disability.

And so that zeal, that passion in me, I said, okay, why don’t I gather around and look for women like myself – strong, educated women with disability like myself. And we came together and we started the initiative for women and girls with disability. And I tell you, it has been awesome because many of us have been able to work on ourselves. You have been able to work on our self-esteem and we have been able to build so many women especially those of us in the community, who are not educated, who does not even have an income, who have one issue or the other. So, the initiative is now becoming a powerhouse for women and girls with disability and so other people with disability who care to join us. So that is the inspiration behind my own life and also around the initiative, it actually based on investing in the education of the girl child with disability.

Lizzie: Wonderful, thank you, Patience. And thank you both, Soneni and Patience, I’m sure hearing about your personal experiences, your personal journeys, it’s going to be useful to a lot of our listeners. And useful in working towards shifting the medical and charity narrative that is prevalent when it comes to women and girls with disabilities.

Now, this particular conversation is supposed to, is looking to highlight the situation of the COVID-19 pandemic. And I’m curious about your, the context in your particular in your respective countries. In Kenya, for example, on the 1st of April, our Chief Justice Honourable Moraga released the statement towards the fact that there has been a significant spike in sexual offences in many parts of the country during this period of the pandemic, and these offences constitute 35.8% of criminal matters being reported during this period. So I’m just curious, in Nigeria, in Zimbabwe, has there been an increase in Sexual and Gender Based Violence.  

Soneni: We have experienced a different type of Gender Based Violence during the COVID-19 for women with disabilities. We know that women with disabilities are very vulnerable to abuse, sexual abuse, and reporting is a great challenge. So you will never come up with statistics of women that had been abused, raped or being beaten up by their partners or family members or anything like that. But they tend to keep quiet more so because the offenders are breadwinners, people that they stay with or people that have confidence in. So what we have realized that in the city that I’m coming from we had a water crisis. This water crisis is where we have water cuts that would go for hours and later on, it would come in the midnight, depending on what area you’re staying in. So what we have noticed is that there are some women that depend on help from either their neighbours or their family members. And you will find out that there’s a there’s a different type of abuse, whereby women are saying they’re not able to go and release themselves in the toilet because how do you flush your toilet when you don’t have water? And you depend on someone? If the boucers, we call them the boucers, if the boucers come and it’s at midnight and you can’t will yourself to fetch water. So what happens, you have to depend on someone to bring that water for you.

Lizzie: Thank you, Soneni. I think in Kenya as well, we can resonate with some of the things that you mentioning. We keep hearing advice from the government, for example, you know, talking about sanitizing, talking about washing your hands. And the reality is, as you mentioned, access to clean water is not a reality for the majority and particularly persons with disabilities and women with disabilities who might be living in informal settlements, you know, it’s not a case where you turn on your taps and there’s water. And here you’re talking about rationing, but there are the informal settlements in Kenya where people have to buy water. So your income sources have been cut short, and then you’re supposed to choose between spending money for water or for food. So it’s a reality that the majority that live below the poverty line have to deal with on a day to day basis. So I totally hear you. I hear you there.

Patience: In Nigeria right now we are having issues and issues of rape and killings. Violence, domestic violence is taking a different tone; even families are part of it. You can agree with me that people with disability are very closely connected to family members, connected to neighbours, connected to friends, connected to colleagues, connected to people around them. And are the people who are always involved with violence and sometimes people with disability are not even able to flee from this violence because of our nature as women with disability. And even girls are even worse, because they are more vulnerable because they are girls and they have a disability, so they are more vulnerable.

Lizzie: But I’m just wondering, in your various contexts, what has been the reception of women with disabilities that take forward cases of violations, particularly sexual violations? Has there been quick action on the part of the police, for example? Do they have a culture of believing the witnesses or is it like Kenya when depending on your disability, then there is an extent to which the police can believe you and, they might need other witnesses to come forth.

Patience: In Nigeria we have the VAP Act, which is Violence Against Persons (Prohibition) Act. I think that is what many states are using even though in many states that have not domesticated this law. But that working for us even though it’s not really, really, inclusive of women with disability is still vague, and I see it in the general sense of all women and girls. So but that is enforced and that is what we are using. And then we also have the Discrimination Against Persons with Disability Prohibition Act that was just signed into law. And that is also another instrument that we are using in Nigeria. We just started using it both, we still have a challenge because it has not been domesticated. But by and large, like you have said, we still have issues around rape, violence, around testimony from women from girls or women with disability because like you rightly said in Kenya; and that is how it is in Nigeria. Because law enforcement agency actually do not believe the story shared by women and girls with disability because it’s based on perception and mindset that their testimony will not be good enough. And so just the mindset that they are girls with disability who will violate them? Who will rape them? There are better girls, they are beautiful girls around so who we go and rape a girl with disability? Who we go on raping a woman with disability? Who will take a woman with disability by force?

Soneni: What I believe we need to do as women with disabilities is to come forth and change the description of what is Gender Based Violence is. Because the world thinks that Gender Based Violence is beating someone blue and red. They think of able-bodied women only, and men as well being abused. So we need to come to a table and explain and define that when we say women with disabilities are experiencing Gender Based Violence what do we mean? Because every disability has one encounter of a different type of Gender Based Violence. And people need to realize that we have so many women that have been abused, and their cases haven’t been brought to the forum because no one is going to believe them.

In my country, Zimbabwe, yes, we’ve had some cases where people, either there’s a strong family member who believes that this girl was raped, so they take it up to the right to the top. But then what about those girls that do not have the backup system? So we need to align our laws, as activists as well, we need to start speaking out; what do we mean when we say Gender Based Violence?

We have issue with transport, I don’t know if it’s the same thing with other countries. So someone that is only a wheelchair, when she’s being lifted onto the bus, by a stranger or conductor, the manner that the person is holding the woman with disability has physical contact, and because you are helping I think I can’t speak up. So I have to keep quiet. But you do not have to hold my bums when you’re lifting me into the bus. You do not have to hold me close to you. This is my body and I have every right to protect my body. So there’s a very, very thin line between a normal way of carrying someone and abusing someone while you are helping them.

Patience: Yeah, I just also want to say that even abuse can also happen in the school system, especially in the institution where you have people who are intellectually disabled.

There are some special schools, we have special schools in Nigeria right now, and especially for those who have psychosocial disability. And a lot of abuse has been going on in those institutions. There is a School for the Blind in Abuja, where I resided in a few months ago, we found out that the girls being transported from home to the school were being abused in the bus by the bus driver; it has been going on for some time. So at a particular time, the girls raised an alarm, and of course, there was denial and all that. And then it was I found out that this man is actually related to the headmistress of the school. And that she tried to cover it all up. But when we find out, we took it upon ourselves to report the situation. And it was reported to the Human Rights Commission and I think this case is still ongoing right now. So this abuse can happen anywhere, like Soneni said, anywhere we have people not because they are people with disability, but people. It can happen anywhere but for women and girls with disabilities it is worse because they look at us like helpless people. And so it is worse, definitely. So we also need to, like she said, we also need to look at the different categories of disability.

Soneni: What I wanted to add, I don’t know if it happens in your culture, in our culture, my sister’s husband is automatically pronounced as my husband.

Lizzie: Oh?

Patience: Okay.

Soneni:  Yes. So what happens you, you have hearing impaired girls, that when they’re living with their sisters, the husband thinks that he’s got a right into that girl’s life. And because that child is not empowered, then you find out there’s a little physical touch. He is the person that will rape that girl and that girl will not say anything because it’s her sister’s husband, she is staying with the sister and because she also thinks that it is right, because it’s my sister’s husband. So we also need to break the cultural belief. How do we define culture? And how do we define abuse? We have girls who become pregnant and she won’t say who made her pregnant. We have so many single mothers that are hearing impaired, we have so many single mothers that are disabled, but it’s because of those hidden abuses, Gender Based Violence that takes place, they are not defined and we don’t explain it to the world to say this needs to come to a stop.

Lizzie: Culture definitely has a role to play in creating an environment where this abuse can thrive and fester in our communities.

(MUSIC) Interlude

Lizzie: Support for our work on the rights of women and girls with disabilities comes from both profit and non-profit organizations, including private well-wishers.  Next, we have an appreciation statement for one our donors. 

Partnership Donation Appreciation – UNFPA

This-Ability Trust thanks United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), in conjunction with the Kenya Red Cross, for their Humanitarian Covid-19 Support of 200 dignity kits.

The Covid-19 pandemic has made life a lot harder for women with disabilities; access to basic essentials such as food, water, and generation of income is near impossible for them during this period. These kits will alleviate some of the challenges women and girls with disabilities are experiencing during this pandemic. The dignity kits will reach 200 adolescent girls in 8 counties across Kenya.

Thank you, UNFPA for your generous donation and for supporting women and girls with disabilities during Covid-19.

This message is approved by This-Ability Trust.

(END OF MUSIC)  End of Interlude

Lizzie: Welcome back. You are listening to PAZA! Conversations with women and girls with disabilities globally. Remember to follow us on Twitter @pazapodcast.

Lizzie: Gender Based Violence manifests itself in different forms and affects us, as you rightly said, both you Soneni and Patience, it manifests in different ways for women with disabilities. The specific disability and the interaction with that violence is also another unique experience.

Lizzie: Our work focuses on amplifying the realities of women with disabilities, let’s hear from Regina from Uasin Gishu County describing her personal experience with physical violence.

Regina’s recording – from Uasin Gishu

When I was in a relationship, my first relationship, the number of abuses and it was worse for me because, one, I am a woman with disability. So I went through physical abuse and it was hard because I didn’t get any support.  When I would just explain people saw it was right for it to be done to me because I am a woman with disability and being in the relationship it was like sympathy for me to be in that relationship, so whatever this man was doing to me people did not take it seriously. They didn’t even mind. It was like it was right thing being done to me, being abused. And then I am a woman, a woman married to a Kalenjin man, so it’s his right to abuse you, beat you properly, beat physical. So a number of times he would beat me up and it was ok to everybody. Nobody would help me. In fact I didn’t report to the Police Station because for me I felt it was right in some way. So I went through a lot for more than one year.

Soneni: Yeah, Regina tells the true story of an African disabled woman that is involved in a relationship and yet is abuse in that relationship, and nobody will believe you. But also trying to be a woman in the community making it at the same time, you have this abuse within your own, someone that says they love you, but then they go on to abuse you. I believe that disabled African women experience similar abuses, or they might be a bit different. The narration is exactly of the stories that I’ve heard for my country, Zimbabwe, where women go into marriages and they’re abused and they keep quiet. But until there’s that one angel that comes in, empowers that woman, and she gets out of that marriage. So it’s a true voice of reflection of the Gender Based Violence among women with disabilities as a whole.

Patience: There’s one thing that I always see especially with women who go through this kind of pain and torture that it’s not easy to break out. So let us come together in this campaign of breaking the silence. If we don’t break the silence, we won’t get perpetrators to book us, even if this perpetrator is our partner. Abuse is abuse. It causes a lot of pain and trauma on the victim, which is mostly the woman, it could also be the man; the victim could also be the man. Breaking the silence is key. We keep preaching that in our advocacy drives, for us to break this and make a difference we must come up with something tangible in our countries, in our communities we need to empower our women, empower our girls, so that when such things happen you think of the next step – and that is breaking the silence.

Lizzie: Just quickly, do you do you have any suggestions for a woman with a disability who finds herself in a situation like Regina’s? What would be the best way forward? What would be the course of action? What would be advice that you would give this woman who is being physically violated by their partner?

Soneni: My encouragement is get out of that relationship. Find someone that you can talk to. And these days we have the internet, where you can confide, there are so many organizations of persons with disabilities in each country that you can go for help. You can even go to the police, but don’t stay in that relationship, it is not worth it. Love is not like that, even if it’s a family member that is abusing you. Love does not abuse. My encouragement is find strength within you, speak for yourself. And once you break that silence, the entire world is going to believe you and they’re going to support you.

Patience: And the only advice I have for Regina is for her to be happy. She needs to do the needful and the needful is, as Soneni said, get out of that of that relationship because remember when you are in a marriage that you are not happy, or when you are in a partnership that is not making happy, you are always sad and you always been abused. I don’t think it is fair for you to be there. I wouldn’t be there. I don’t know if it’s me. I wouldn’t be there. I will take a hike and leave immediately. Even there are even some religious bodies now that are against violence, they will preach it in the church to say if you are in a home where they are violating against you just leave, why? What are you doing there? There is nothing, there’s nothing there for you. It doesn’t hurt, it’s not supposed to hurt you. So be happy. Just go away and make yourself happy in any way that you can, so that you don’t experience such nonsense anymore. That is not why you are here on Earth. You are here for a purpose, and definitely hurting you is not part of that purpose. That is just my thinking.

That is why we need to be talking to people. Once you are talking to people, you are building this healing, inner strength, we are building the healing inner strength and also building support around you, around your family, around your friends who can help you where you are no longer there. So it is better to leave than to lose yourself or to lose your life. That’s the way I see it.

Lizzie: No, that’s true. I agree. I totally agree. I’m agreeing with everything you’re saying Patience. I’ve seen situations of perpetrators, you know, being very systematic in how they violate you. So it starts you know, probably with emotional violence that is, small, small things. So you think, oh, he’s not beating me physically so this is okay.

Soneni: If I’m in a relationship, and I’m your friend, I must openly talk about my relationship with my person, so that you can begin to sense if there’s something wrong in my relationship. But if we have secret relationship, and you don’t openly talk about your relationship, and you’re always covering for your partner, or you’re never out as couples or as partners, but you’re always protect, you’re always protected – there’s a danger in that, that’s why people discover things very late. It’s because they did they don’t have anyone that they’re accountable to.

So once you enter in a relationship, treat it normal. Talk about your relationship. Ask for advice from those that have been in a longer term relationship. Check yourself out, check the other person, if he’s got certain habits that you’re not sure of that has happened to you, if let’s say you’re in a wheelchair, he goes out he leaves you, check if that is normal or abnormal. Most of these things happen because people are not aware that it is wrong. They think it is right, he is doing me a favour, he loves me, that he’s protecting me, he’s saying I mustn’t go out with him, because people laugh at us when they see us when they see us together, so he’s protecting me. In the meantime, it’s just adding and adding and adding, he doesn’t give me money in the public because he doesn’t want people to talk about it. No. So let your relationship have an accountability.

 (MUSIC) Interlude

Lizzie: Support for our work on the rights of women and girls with disabilities comes from both profit and non-profit organizations, including private well-wishers.  Next, we have an appreciation statement for one our donors. 

Partnership Donation Appreciation – Kotex

This-Ability Trust thanks Kotex, in conjunction with Verde Group, for their Humanitarian Covid-19 Support in the donation of 20 boxes of sanitary towels for women and girls with disabilities. 

Women and girls with disabilities face challenges in accessing Sexual & Reproductive Health and this includes access to hygienic menstrual products. The sanitary products will reach 300 women and girls in 8 counties across Kenya.

Thank you, Kotex for your generous donation and for supporting girls and women with disabilities during Covid-19.

This message is approved by This-Ability Trust.

Lizzie: Welcome back. You are listening to PAZA! Conversations on women and girls with disabilities globally. Remember to follow us on Twitter @pazapodcast.

(END OF MUSIC) End of Interlude

Lizzie: Our work focuses on amplifying the realities of women with disabilities, let’s hear from Wanja from Embu County describing her personal experience with sexual violence.

Wanja’s recording – Embu

For me, I am epileptic. The first thing, my extended family, especially my cousins, started calling me a crazy woman, that I am bewitched. They would call the Wakorinos (a religious sect), they (the Wakorinos) would fill water in a tank and throw me in there claiming they are removing demons from inside me. Sometimes they would cook dog meat and force me to eat. My legs are usually in pain. Men rape me. And I have nobody to turn to. If I report to the chief, they all claim that I am a mad woman. At home I have nobody to trust, being viewed as a burden because for people with epilepsy we depend on daily medication. And if, for example, someone rapes me when unconscious after an epileptic seizure, I don’t know what was done to me, or any awareness of the act, until after some months when I noticed that I have missed my periods, and I found out I am four pregnant, like in the case of my first my born. I don’t even know where he came from or who his father is. I remember I was in Kerugoya, had lunch somewhere, I had a seizure, I don’t remember what happened next.

Lizzie: Guys, any reflections? Do you experience the same? Do women with disabilities with different kinds of conditions, do they experience the same kind of violations in your countries?

Soneni: Another narrative that is very close to the experiences of people with intellectual abilities go through. I can recall there’s one case that I know, I had a conversation with a woman with a mental condition, she lives in a village. She’s been raped by a local person and he still walks around. She was narrating that every time that she sees this man, she’s got so much fear that she thinks that he’s going to rape her again. Justice was not served for that girl because of a mental condition where she cannot testify because of a condition. So these stories are there, they are so real. And that’s why I keep saying if we have policies that protect our women, so that when they do report these cases it’s not going to be a matter of do I believe her, but it’s a matter of what the law says. So we really need to make sure that our law enforcement is very disability friendly for women with disabilities.

Patience: So apart from what Soneni said on policy, we also need to engage families to empower them, so that they can also we can also build a kind of trust in them. Then can they can be engaged. Some of us who are into this work where organizations or persons with disability or human rights advocates, I mean, people that have passion about this work can also lead so by the time we now have this kind of conversation around the families and how to engage them to build trust around them, to also make them know that this kind of thing doesn’t just happen. We don’t want it to happen in our system, in our community. So the family plays a very big role in the lives of women and girls with disability, especially when it comes to psychosocial disability. So we need to engage some of these families, to build trust in them. And, of course, I also actually believe in the fact that policies need to be a disability friendly because, of course, that is the key to the whole episode and the whole idea.

Lizzie: So from both of you, I hear that, you know, the experiences or the violations of women with disabilities are not unique to, for example, Kenya alone. These are things we can collect some of the same cases of violations in Zimbabwe, and also in Nigeria. So it’s not a unique experience to Kenya. And also, I have heard that, you know, there are several action steps that we can, we can begin to incorporate in our work to address some of these violations from advocating for policies but also to working with the communities and particularly the families and caregivers of individuals with disabilities. But I wanted to find out, what other advocacy strategies do you have in your respective countries? What has worked particularly in terms of advancing the rights of persons with disabilities? And what can we borrow from one another?

Patience: It took us about 20 years for the Discrimination Against Persons with Disability Prohibition Bill to be signed into law by this present administration. It kept jumping from one administration to the other until we finally got was we have been advocating for. And that is because people in the organizations of people with disability did not relent. So engaging people and organizations of persons with disability is key. That is what we are also talking about in this COVID-19, that is why during the lockdown period it didn’t go over well with many persons with disabilities because people with disability and the organizations were not really on board, on the table of discussions when preventive measures came out. In fact, people with disability we actually cut off. It was when we started to advocate and say, no, you cannot, you cannot cut off a community of persons with disability. Over 25 million people with disability, as estimated in Nigeria, can never be cut off just like that. And at the end of the day, the government started to bring us on board again. We now have preventive measures in sign language format, in some accessible formats, and things like that. So we are now being a part of the discussions and also prevention. I am not saying that we are there yet, but what I’m saying is that engaging the organizations of persons with disability is working for us in Nigeria.

Soneni: We’ve also been doing similar actions in Zimbabwe, like what Patience is saying, but we are running with PRPD, I don’t know if you’re familiar with that one, Partnership on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, where we are empowering women and girls with disabilities to identify who they are in their communities and empower them through workshops, empower them through training on how to speak with members of parliament to express their views. Because they voted for members of parliament so they should, members of parliament should take issues concerning persons with disabilities to Parliament, to try and solve some of the issues that are coming from the communities; such as rape, such as lack of food, such as lack of employment. I’m working with different organization, because of my background in what I do, I affiliate myself with so many organizations that promote disability rights movement, empowering the girl child on how to be confident, to speak for herself and also include families and educate families on the importance of persons with disabilities; that they shouldn’t keep them at home. But rather, they should treat them like any other children. If they have other siblings give them opportunities. If there’s education, you’re educating your children, don’t leave out a person with a disability but include them in highlighting issues of disability within a home community and also the country. So that is where we are in Zimbabwe.

Lizzie: I have truly, truly enjoyed this conversation. So, in parting, any last words that each of you has?

Soneni: I would like to say, remember disability issues or human rights issues, and every woman has a right to live. Every woman has a right to a voice, and every girl child has a right to education. And every girl child has a right to live a life, even with a disability. And during this COVID-19 let’s all remember, protect yourself to protect others. And coming from Zimbabwe, I say thank you Siyabonga, Tinotenda.

Patience: Thank you, Lizzie for inviting me, I really enjoyed myself. And I just want to end this by saying that the goal is not about making women with disabilities stronger, because they are already strong. But the goal is all about changing the mindsets and perceptions of people. So that they know that persons or women with disability are indeed women first before the disability; and that is what we are trying to, to bring on board change and make a difference.

Lizzie: Thank you both. This would not have been as vibrant as it was without your voices. Thank you for agreeing to be part of this and contributing all your energies towards this, I’m truly appreciative. I hope you would join us again. And I hope we can continue the conversation on social media. And if you have an idea for another conversation that we could all have, please reach out.

 (MUSIC) Interlude

GBV Resources:  Toll Free Helpline 0800 720553 and 0800 730999

If you or anyone you know is experiencing or has experienced any form of Gender Based Violence please toll free number 0800 720553 managed by the Coalition on Violence Against Women (COVAW) or toll free number 0800 730999 managed by the Directorate of Community Policing, Gender and Child Protection to seek immediate assistance.

Again, if you or anyone you know in your community is experiencing or has experienced any form of Gender Based Violence please call 0800 720553 or 0800 730999.

Stay Safe out there.

This message is approved by This-Ability Trust.

(MUSIC) Outro

Lizzie: I am Lizzie Kiama and you’ve been listening to PAZA! Conversations with women and girls with disabilities globally. You can also follow This-Ability of Twitter an Instagram @this_ability_ ke and on Facebook

Join me next month for another stimulating conversation. In the meantime, follow us on Twitter @pazapodcast to continue the conversation on the experiences of women and girls with disabilities. Until next time, stay safe.