“We formed this organization with the sole objective of promoting social, cultural and economic development for women and girls with disabilities. As disabled women we felt that our developmental needs were not met and our voices for attention were ignored within the mainstream society. Only menial jobs such as receptionist, switchboard operator and typist are available to women and girls with disabilities,” said Sibanda in a recent interview with The Zimbabwean.
ZWIDE also advocates and lobbies for the rights of women and girls with disabilities and runs capacity building programmes such as employment creation and income-generating projects. It has 400 female members and is active in six provinces.
“ZWIDE runs several projects for its members such as manufacture of detergents, making of bedspreads, school uniforms and leather products as well as vending. We support members in these projects through revolving funds and through the facilitation of loans from banks, “said Sibanda.
One of ZWIDE members who have benefited from the projects is Nontokozo Ngwenya. “I have been assisted by ZWIDE to set up my sewing business. I sew mainly bedspreads, school uniforms, bedcovers and curtains. I am able to sustain my family through sewing,” said Ngwenya.
Her wish is to venture into full-time manufacturer of industrial wear such as protective clothing.
Gladys Dube has done a detergent-making course facilitated by the organization. “With the knowledge that I have acquired from ZWIDE, I am now able to make as liquid soap, toilet cleaners and other disinfectants used for washing hospital linen. I sell most of my products to big shopping outlets in town,” she said.
As part of its awareness raising campaign, Sibanda said her organization last month embarked on a networking and information dissemination programme with other stakeholders after securing funding from a partner “I feel disturbed that the people I represent do not have access to information. We are currently meeting government departments like the Police, Ministry of Health so that the set up at these public institutions is friendly to our needs. It is shocking that the staff at these institutions cannot communicate in sign language.
“Our wish as an organization is for the inclusion of an interpreter at every district or provincial hospital or police station so that people with various disabilities, especially the deaf and dumb, can be treated fairly,” said Sibanda.
She also expressed great concern over increasing incidences of sexual abuse of people with disabilities, especially children. “Some people take advantage of the weaker position of a disabled person to abuse her. Normally it is very difficult to prove violations against them because of a lot of factors such as problems with language. We need to respect each other as human beings because no one goes to shops to buy disability,” she said.
Sibanda started gradually losing her sight in 1980 – by 1985 it had completely gone. Born in 1955 at Antelope district hospital in Matobo district in Matabeleland South, she never thought she would one day be blind.Post published in: Analysis