UNESCO ROSA attends Zim First Lady’s interface meeting with Persons with Albinism

Zimbabwe’s Ministry of Public Service, Labour, and Social Welfare (MoPSLSW) in collaboration with the country’s First Lady, Auxillia Mnangagwa hosted an interface meeting with Persons with Albinism on 2 February 2022 at the Chitungwiza Aquatic Complex.

The UNESCO Regional Office for Southern Africa attended the colorful event that was filled with jubilation as the First Lady handed out sunscreen lotions and food hampers to persons with albinism as well as starter packs for them to initiate rabbit rearing projects.

In her keynote address, the First Lady encouraged all members of society to work together in peace with people with Albinism.

Speaking at the same occasion, Special Advisor on Disability Affairs in the Office of the President and Cabinet, Dr. Joshua Malinga called upon all stakeholders to ensure the inclusion of persons with disabilities in society and emphasized that children with albinism should not be left behind.

Persons with albinism continue to face multiple forms of discrimination and exclusion. Albinism is one of the disabilities that are profoundly misunderstood socially and persons, in particular women and girls with albinism continue to experience heightened risks of harmful practices such as ritual murders and sexual violence. The UNESCO study on amplifying the voices of women and girls with disabilities in Zimbabwe: a comprehensive study indicates that rural girls and women with albinism reported experiences of prolonged discomfort because their skins are too delicate to withstand the heat of the day, more so as they had poor access to special sunscreen lotions. Some in-laws who dislike married women with albinism reportedly ordered them to work in the fields under the heat of the sun for long hours to repel them away from their sons or brothers.

UNESCO has been collaborating with the Ministry of Public Service, Labour, and Social Welfare in advancing disability rights and disability inclusion. Some of the key achievements include a costed three-year strategic plan for the National Disability Board.

In his solidarity message at the interface, The Ministry of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare (MoPSLSW), Permanent Secretary, Mr. Simon Masanga expressed his gratitude to UNESCO and other organizations for the work they have been doing to improve the lives of persons with disabilities. He further indicated that more is yet to come now that Zimbabwe has again been awarded funding for a new UNPRPD Round 4 project titled “Strengthening Disability Rights Accountability, Governance, and Coordination in Zimbabwe”. The UNPRPD Round 4 project will be implemented from 2022 to 2023. It is expected to benefit persons with disabilities across Zimbabwe’s 10 provinces.