The month of April is an important month in the calendar of Zimbabwe. In the month of April, Zimbabwe celebrates independence from colonial rule. 2020 is a unique year for Zimbabwe as Zimbabwe attains 40 years since independence. 40 years signifies maturity and that is a measure of maturity for nations. Persons with disabilities are estimated to constitute an estimated 10 per cent of the population of Zimbabwe. As Zimbabwe turns 40, the journey for persons with disabilities has been difficult and bumpy with more tears than joyful moments.
While there have been some gains such as the development of a Disabled Persons Act in 1992, this has not been updated and has remained largely unimplemented. Zimbabwe signed the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in 2013 and this has not been domesticated thus remains a promise on paper. Two seats for senators representing persons with disabilities were introduced in the constitution of 2013, while good it’s a heavy burden of representation for an estimated 10 per cent of the population. Sign language saw legal recognition in 2013 and this is still to be fully operationalised. The constitution of 2013 has progressive measures for persons with disabilities and these are yet to be fully enjoyed by persons with disabilities.
Persons with disabilities in Zimbabwe face disproportionate levels of poverty, lack of access to education, health services, and employment and under representation in decision making and political participation.
The main barriers to inclusion include stigma, discrimination, lack of access to communication, physical and virtual environment, lack of access to assistive devices as well as lack of support for independent living. Deaf Zimbabwe Trust will use the Social Progress Index as tool to assess the status of persons with disabilities in the country as Zimbabwe celebrates 40 years.
Social progress defined as the capacity of a society to meet the basic human needs of its citizens, establish the building blocks that allow citizens and communities to enhance and sustain the quality of their lives, and create the conditions for all individuals to reach their full potential.
The social progress index asks very important questions that persons with disabilities ask in various fora. Does a country provide for its people’s most essential needs? Are the building blocks in place for individuals and communities to enhance and sustain wellbeing? Is there opportunity for all individuals to reach their full potential? Answering these questions will shed light into the extent to which persons with disabilities have experienced 40 years of independence.
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Source: Deaf Zimbabwe Trust