Disability advocates call for protection of the most vulnerable during COVID-19 pandemic

COVID-19 is sure to affect persons with disabilities more significantly, yet little has been done to protect the most vulnerable in societies.  Advocates should speak up and key stakeholders take appropriate actions and protective measures. The International Disability Alliance (IDA) encourages that Organisations of Persons with Disabilities (DPOs) should play a key role in advocating for disability-inclusive responses to the COVID19 crisis.

In Zimbabwe, the UNESCO Regional Office for Southern Africa, in partnership with key disability sector stakeholders, has offered a dedicated platform to popular disability advocates to amplify the voices of persons with disabilities, and to call for specific actions by the decision makers and frontline professionals.

The videos highlight the challenges faced by and the needs of persons with disabilities in emergencies such as COVID-19 pandemic. They call upon all stakeholders to embrace a human rights-based and an inclusive approach to COVID-19 response and ensure that the rights and dignity of persons with disabilities are upheld in all interventions.

Seven influential advocates  and key civil society actors in the disability sector are speaking to the different needs, challenges, and recommendations, presented in Sign Language, Shona, Ndebele, and English. This endeavour displays the leadership role of persons with disabilities, and their organisations, in voicing their concerns in a united approach during the COVID-19 response in Zimbabwe.

UNESCO is launching this initiative in complement of the Series of Awareness-raising videos for persons with disabilities, on the basic information about the COVID-19. UNESCO recognises that there is limited and in other cases, no information being produced in accessible formats for persons with disabilities during this crisis. Persons with disabilities continue to remain a commonly “invisible” left behind population group during interventions, and this is true for most humanitarian crises and responses.

These initiatives are also benefiting from the support of the UN Partnership for the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, and the Spotlight Initiative in fighting against Gender-based Violence.