Enfranchising People with Disabilities in Zimbabwe
- Jairos Jiri Association
- Country of Implementation
- First published
“Overall, the use of the multi-stakeholder innovation with a focus on the rights of people with disabilities contributed greatly to their increased participation in governance systems and other development activities, as well as increased recognition and acceptance of people with disabilities in their communities.” W. N. RUVERE, National Executive Director, JJA
The rights of people with disabilities were not explicitly defined in the constitution of Zimbabwe and most sectors of society had no policies that were inclusive of disability. This is because disability, in most sectors of the society, is regarded as a charity issue rather than a development or human rights issue. The Disability Act of 1992, reviewed in 1996, falls short in terms of adequately addressing these rights. The participation of people with disabilities in decision-making processes has been hindered by some restrictions imposed by both physical and attitudinal barriers, including inaccessible buildings and the lack of access to useful information.
Solution, Innovation and Impact
The project aimed at increasing the number of people with disabilities who (1) participate as election observers in the country’s local and national elections; (2) cast their votes in local and national elections; and (3) stand as candidates in local and national elections. Community involvement was key to the success of the program and led to the establishment of local disability committees. These committees, which were trained by Jairos Jiri Association, have a crucial role to play, as they are part of the organization’s phase-out and sustainability strategies.
Funding, Outlook and Transferability
The governance program was carried out with the maximum involvement of the beneficiaries and concentrated on empowering communities. The program gives room to communities to apply strategies that work in their own situations, and thus is sufficiently flexible to be transferred to other countries. It is also possible to scale-up the program within Zimbabwe, as it would have an even greater impact if the whole country were covered. Costs can be shared among communities to cover workshops, meetings, and voter education campaigns as well as information, education, and communication materials.