Picture 1: FODPZ National Director Mr. Leonard Marange signing the MOU.
On the 6th of April 2022, in a historic ceremony held at Meikles Hotel in Harare , a coalition between Organizations of Persons with Disabilities (OPDs) and the Women’s Movement in addressing intersectional discrimination was validated , signed and adopted.The Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) was signed between OPDs represented by the two umbrella bodies, National Association of Societies for the Care of the Handicapped (NASCOH) as well as the Federation of Disabled Persons in Zimbabwe (FODPZ) and the women’s movement represented by the Women’s Coalition of Zimbabwe (WCoZ).
OPDs and the Women’s Movement representative holding copies of the MoU. Left: (Mr. Henry Masaya, Acting Executive Director of NASCOH), centre: (Mrs. Sally Ncube, National Coordinator WCoZ), right: (Mr.Leonard Marange, National Director of FODPZ).
The MoU was built within the framework of the European Union funded Spotlight Initiative (SI) – Outcome 1, Activity 1.1.11: Targeted and well-coordinated capacity strengthening of disabled person’s organizations. With support from UNESCO, this framework, it is striving to link up OPDs and the women’s movement to ensure joint advocacy for disability rights.
The Spotlight Initiative (SI), Women Coalition of Zimbabwe (WcoZ) and Federation of Organizations of Disabled People (FODPZ) banners.
Under the ambit of the Spotlight Initiative, the women’s movement in Zimbabwe plays a crucial role in advocating for gender equality and women’s rights. Historically the women’s movement in collaboration with other CSOs has been working with marginalized groups and has successfully advocated for law and policy reforms in order to ensure that all forms of violence against women are addressed. OPDs in Zimbabwe have been at the forefront of advocating for disability rights and inclusion with a specific focus on the intersecting forms of stigma and discrimination that women and girls with disabilities face.
However, there has been little interaction between the women’s movement and OPDs in the fight against intersectional discrimination. To ensure that the interaction between these two is enhanced, UNESCO fostered the coalition building between the Organizations of Persons with Disabilities and the women’s movement in Zimbabwe to ensure joint advocacy for disability rights and gender equality during the implementation of the Spotlight Initiative Phase 2. Given the milestones of these two movements, there was indeed a need to build a coalition to address the intersectional discrimination.
This coalition building intervention builds on the realization that women and girls with disabilities are usually “left behind” in gender-based violence interventions, yet they face intersecting forms of discrimination at a higher level in comparison to women without disabilities. Inclusion of women with disabilities in initiatives that seek to end all forms of violence against women and girls in Zimbabwe is essential. WCoZ, along with FODPZ and NASCOH will drive this coalition building by facilitating and creating platforms for learning opportunities and exchange of experience in lobbying, advocacy and policy dialogue.
The key priority areas the coalition will focus on:
- Policy implementation and monitoring at local level
- Forging a robust disability machinery following the model of a gender machinery.
- Building a robust partnership for stronger advocacy framework.
- Engagement of community leaders and policy makers, private sector and service providers.
- Social inclusion and non-discrimination.
- Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights
- Gender Equality, disability inclusion and rights
Speaking during the MoU signing ceremony, representatives from the OPDs and the Women’s movement including from UNESCO said:
This MOU will create a platform for both movements to undertake joint advocacy and capacity building initiatives which include; Developing corporate disability and gender advocacy and inclusion strategies in the respective movements, developing partnerships and synergies in existing projects and programs aimed at ending violence against women and girls, especially those implemented at grassroots levels, developing networks and alliances of women’s rights organisations and OPDs at the national, provincial and district levels and raise awareness on gender-based violence, intersectional discrimination, and sexual and reproductive health and rights and disability inclusion,” Mr. Henry Masaya said.
Mr. Leonard Marange, called on stakeholders to depart from the culture where the signing of MOUs has been a ritual but said there is a need to put it into a living document with a focus on vulnerable groups within the population since women and girls with disabilities often face a double challenge of exclusion and discrimination.
“This MOU challenges stakeholders to give enough attention and focus to disability issues. We should see a departure from a situation whereby the disability sector has been operating in silos with PWDs often allocated to the welfare department. This pact is meant to take on board women and children with disabilities issues. Thus the MOU is a beginning of a long journey towards achieving disability-inclusive development,” Mr. Leonard Marange said.
Phinith Chanthalangsy, the Head of the UNESCO Regional Office for Southern Africa’s Social and Human Sciences Unit said the MOU came from the realization that the women’s movement has made strides in fostering the inclusion and mainstreaming of disability rights.“Thus there is a need to create synergies between OPDs and the women’s movement and consolidate work from both sectors to ensure coexistence to advance gender equality and disability inclusion. The capacity of OPDs is built on advocacy techniques. The MOU will create an opportunity to foster a learning process through learning and sharing of experiences. There is a need to develop networks at the national level and beyond.
“This has the potential to raise more awareness on GBV, build projects, or program interventions to ensure we come up with one stronger advocacy movement while partnerships strengthen institutional capacity on gender and disability with a view of developing a gender and disability machinery from national to the local level,” Mr. Phinith Chanthalangsy said.
Below are photographs of the MoU signing ceremony, a transformative coalition towards addressing intersectional discrimination, in pursuit of women empowerment and disability inclusion.
In the picture: Mr.Henry Masaya (NASCOH National Director), Mrs Sally Ncube (WCoZ National Coordinator),Mr. Leonard Marange (FODPZ National Director), Dr. Christine Peta (Director Department of Disability Affairs) and Ms. Abigail Magwenzi (Sign Language Interpreter) during the MoU signing ceremony on the 6th of April 2022.
In the picture: Mr.Henry Masaya (NASCOH National Director), Mrs Sally Ncube (WCoZ National Coordinator),Mr. Leonard Marange (FODPZ National Director), Mr Phinith Chanthalangsy (Head of the UNESCO Regional Office for Southern Africa’s Social and Human Sciences Unit) and Ms. Abigail Magwenzi (Sign Language Interpreter) during the MoU signing ceremony on the 6th of April 2022.