Organizations of Persons with Disabilities and Women’s Movement sign coalition agreement to address intersectional discrimination

Organisations of Persons with Disabilities (OPDs) and Women’s Movements in Zimbabwe signed a Memorandum of Understanding to address intersectional discrimination on 6 April 2022 in Harare. The Federation of Organisations of Disabled People in Zimbabwe (FODPZ) represented the OPDs while the Women’s Coalition of Zimbabwe signed the MOU on behalf of the women’s movement.

The signing of the MOU was a result of coalition building efforts spearheaded by UNESCO and other UN Agencies under the EU-funded Spotlight Initiative.

Addressing delegates who included the media at the signing ceremony, the MOU signatories expressed optimism for new and enhanced collaboration between the two movements.

The MOU will enable the Women’s Coalition of Zimbabwe and the Organisation for Persons with Disabilities to learn from each other’s past experiences.

National Association of Societies for the Care of the Handicapped (NASCOH) Acting Director, Henry Masaya, said the MOU would create more partnerships and synergies in existing projects and programs aimed at ending violence against women and girls.

FODPZ National Director, Leonard Marange, stressed the need for the coalition parties to jointly advocate and mobilise all stakeholders to address the intersectional discrimination facing girls and women with disabilities.

Gender and Disability Coordination Advisor in the UN Resident Coordinator’s Office, Magdeline Madibela, described the signing of the MOU as a historic step towards the achievement of sustainable development goals.

UNESCO Regional Office for Southern Africa Programme Specialist for Social and Human Sciences, Phinith Chanthalangsy pledged full support for the coalition building between the women’s movement and the disability movement.

Within the framework of the Spotlight Initiative, UNESCO is striving to link up OPDs and the women’s movement to ensure joint advocacy for disability rights. 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 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. Given the milestones of these two movements, there is a need to build a coalition to address intersectional discrimination. The 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. The inclusion of women with disabilities in initiatives that seek to end all forms of violence against women and girls in Zimbabwe is essential.

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 will continue to foster the coalition building between the Organisations 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. The Women’s Coalition of Zimbabwe, along with the Federation of Organisations of Disabled People in Zimbabwe and the National Association of Societies for the Care of the Handicapped will drive this coalition building by facilitating and creating platforms for learning opportunities and exchange of experience in lobbying, advocacy, and policy dialogue.

 

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