The UNESCO Regional Office for Southern Africa through the European Union-funded Spotlight Initiative is partnering with Organisations of Persons with Disabilities (OPDs) to undertake community-based interventions to address the unequal gender power relations and the socio-cultural, religious, economic and political root causes of sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) and harmful practices (HPs), which negatively affect women and girls with disabilities.
Through this partnership, Deaf Women Included (DWI), Disabled Women Support Organization (DWSO), and National Association of Societies for the Care of the Handicapped (NASCOH) will conduct capacity-strengthening and social dialogue initiatives that target community leaders, chiefs, local authorities, social workers, police and other service providers on SGBV, HPs and sexual and reproductive health rights (SRHR). The issue of discrimination of women and girls with disabilities will be at the core of all initiatives, as the OPDs will engage with different stakeholders on possible community-based models that could help address gender based violence (GBV).
The planned activities include key stakeholder sensitisation meetings and mobilisation of women and girls with disabilities and local actors in creating support groups and data collection systems on GBV. The OPDs will also document testimonies of GBV survivors as well as conduct discussions on key topics such as access to SRH, ddisability inclusion in GBV prevention, response and community development as well as available services and opportunities for persons with disabilities among others.
Community activities have commenced with DWSO conducting workshops in Matobo, Mangwe, Bulilima and Insiza districts of Matebeleland South Province. DWI has held sensitisation meetings with community leaders in Hurungwe, Mt Darwin, Shamva and Buhera districts. NASCOH will conduct sensitisation meeting in Harare with community leaders as well as persons with disabilities.
The Zimbabwe Association of Community Radio Stations (ZACRAS) through its network of community media, will accompany the OPDs to gather media content from the community-based activities implemented by the 3 OPDs, design dedicated programmes on various media platforms and disseminate the content through the community media involved and mainstream media. This will ensure wider reach of the content and community issues relating to women and girls with disabilities.
The Spotlight Initiative with a financial commitment of Euros 500 million by European Union is a global joint United Nations and European Union initiative to eliminate all forms of violence against women and girls in all continents. It builds on global efforts to meet the Sustainable Development Goals, focusing on gender equality as well as health and wellbeing tackling head-on sexual and gender based violence by paving the way for women and girls to have a “voice”, “choice” and “control” over their lives, particularly their ability to make decisions and actively participate in their communities. The Zimbabwe Spotlight Initiative country programme targets directly and indirectly 11 million beneficiaries particularly rural women and girls, women and girls living with disabilities, and women living with HIV.