Institute of Community Development Zimbabwe (IcodZim) has engaged councils in Masvingo province on how they can mitigate Covid-19 effects on women with disabilities to improve their legal, policy and administrative challenges.
The engagement aimed at placing women with disabilities at the center of sustainable and resilient Covid-19 response and recovery plan.
IcodZim director Talent Maposa said there is absence of localized disaster preparedness and response plan to help affected women with disabilities to a greater extent and urged councils to find ways to deal with Covid-19 in case another wave strikes again.
“Councils should have plans and resources set aside for disasters especially this pandemic because no one knows how it is going to end and what is going to come next.
“The available structures are in form of taskforce Committees at district level and lack of a localized disaster preparedness and response plan during the Covid-19 affected most women with disabilities,” said Maposa.
Bikita Rural District Council (RDC) Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Peter Chibi said Covid-19 affected women with disabilities on accessing information due to absence of community engagement, adding that there is need for inclusion of women with disabilities in engagements that increase their participation.
“The inclusion of people with disabilities in socio- economic activities is of paramount importance especially during the Covid-19 period and women with disabilities have not been able to access information during the pandemic due to lack of participation and representation in the taskforce.
“RDCs should have specific funds reserved for disasters in order to help reduce economic problems in the event of a disaster,” said Chibi.
Mwenezi RDC representative Sinikiwe Mhlanga said women with disabilities were subjected to inhuman treatment and discrimination at quarantine centers and lack of disability friendly infrastructure is a major challenge to women with disabilities.
“The quarantine centers were not disability friendly and this resulted in ill treatment of women with disabilities, exposing them to stigma.
“The other major challenges we are facing is that our infrastructure is not disability friendly and we working at building ramps at all council offices,” said Mhlanga.
Chiredzi Town Council representative Washington Mbaura said they witnessed a spike in gender based violence (GBV) cases involving women and girls with disabilities during the lockdown period.
Masvingo City Council represented by Ashley Jinjika also said women with disabilities faced numerous challenges but they managed to find solutions to some of the challenges.
“Women with disabilities faces a lot of challenges such as lack of information kiosks, water challenges and resource mobilization challenge.
“We managed to launch a Covid 19 support fund, council rented houses and stands to women with disabilities, provision of market stalls, payment plans, piped water scheme and provided Jairos Jiri with five hectare stands for their income generating projects,” said Jinjika.