WALPE Research Launch statement
Patriarchy remains the biggest hindrance to young women and women with disabilities’ participation in leadership and decision making processes; Research Findings- Mutasa District
Women’s Academy for Leadership and Political Excellence (WALPE) together with Deaf Zimbabwe Trust (DZT) and Mutasa Youth Forum (MYF) on 17 September 2020 launched their collaborative research report titled: “The Implications of Young Women and Women with Disabilities’ Marginalisation in Leadership and Decision-Making Processes: A case of Mutasa District in Manicaland Province.”
The launch marked the apex of the research effort which commenced in July 2020 and reached out to 320 participants in Mutasa District, Manicaland Province. The key findings of the research established that the implications of the marginalisation of young women and women with disabilities is further isolation of them in the socio, economic and political spheres of life. Patriarchy remains the biggest stumbling block to women’s ascendancy to leadership and decision making processes.
The zenith of the proceedings was a panel discussion which presented the implications of young women and women with disabilities’ marginalisation in leadership and decision making processes. The panellists comprised of Tendai Dondofema, a deaf rights advocate, Tatenda Rutanhira, a youth rights defender, Rumbidzai Nzarayebani, the Executive Director of Women Centred Development Trust and Batanayi Gwangwawa, WALPE Programmes Manager.
The panellists concurred that young women and women with disabilities are facing greater hurdles when trying to participate in leadership and decision-making processes due to their marginalised gender, age or disability.
The panel agreed that the hurdles which are being faced by young women and women with disabilities range from societal, economic, political and structural challenges. Rumbidzai Nzarayebani presented that societal implications on the participation of young women and women with disabilities specifically patriarchy and sexism, pull-her-down syndrome and ageism have been a hindrance to their participation in leadership and decision-making processes. She also reiterated that the challenges being faced by young women and women with disabilities in Mutasa are not peculiar to them only but cross cutting to other districts of Zimbabwe.
Tendai Dondofema a deaf rights advocate bemoaned the existence of structural and economic limitations that result in the lack of assistive infrastructure and added that economic dependence dictate on the women with disabilities’ participation in leadership and decision making processes. She said, “…The lack of assistive infrastructure such as mobility aids, hearing devices, grab bars and wider doorways have limited the extent to which PWDs participate in public life…”
The implications for young women and women with disabilities’ marginalisation in leadership and decision-making processes that were presented include further marginalisation, corruption and continued violations of women’s rights.
Making a contribution during the discussion, Mr. Tatenda Rutanhira, a youth rights defender based in Mutasa opined that men should also take an active role in initiatives that promote gender equality as it improves their understanding and appreciation of why women should occupy public office.
Giving a way forward, WALPE Programmes Manager Ms. Batanayi Gwangwawa said, “…an intersectional approach and human rights based approach that mainstreams disability and gender in all areas and ensure the respect for rights of all young women and women with disabilities must be applied to all developmental programmes in all sectors of life.” She added that Government must implement in full sections 17, 56 and 80 of the constitution which mandates government to do everything in its power to ensure gender equality and the participation of women in public leadership.
The consortium shall engage Government, political parties, Parliament, religious and traditional leaders and community members on the research findings in a niche to create a conducive environment for young women and women with disabilities to actively, freely, effectively and fully participate in leadership and decision making processes.