December 3rd is World Disabilities Day and marks the half-way point in the 16 Days of Activism to End Gender Violence campaign! This year’s theme is “Empowering persons with disabilities and ensuring inclusiveness and equality.” Learn more about this year’s global campaign here: https://www.un.org/development/desa/disabilities/news/dspd/idpd.html
Annual celebrations of persons with disabilities began in 1981 with the International Year for Disabled Persons. The goal of this day is to promote a better understanding of disability issues, focusing on the rights of persons with disabilities and advantages of the integration of persons with disabilities into every aspect of society. The World Programme of Action concerning Disabled Persons, adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in 1982, helped established this aim of full and effective participation of persons with disabilities in the political, social, economic and cultural life of their communities. Below is an example of some of the work one of our grantee partners is doing to support children with disabilities.
Disability is not inability.
8-year-old Mbayine was born with both of his hands lame and with parents who believed that he could not do much in life with his kind of disability. However, with the company and support of the local government chairperson working hand-in-hand with Building Tomorrow Fellow Robert Lumu, Mbayine’s parents were convinced that he is just like any other child with an equal right to an education.
Mbayine has now been in school for over a month, and is very happy and active in class.
Most of the time change isn’t as easy as the push of a button, but sometimes it is.
John is a young boy with an intellectual disability in Kyankwanzi District where BT Fellow Patrick Kaboyo works. John’s family members and surrounding community alike believed that he would not be able to do anything of value in school and thus refused to enroll him for his first day of nursery class.
Rejecting this sentencing of John to a life without education, Patrick came on the scene with one of his community education volunteers and local councilman. As expected, young John’s parents insisted that he was unable to learn and that school would be a waste of time for him.
Picking up the boy, Patrick placed him on his motorcycle and then showed him how to start the ignition on the bike. A few minutes later, Patrick asked little John to start the bike, and, reaching out his tiny finger to hit the red ignition button, John pressed down with a smile to start the bike with a “vrooooom!” If John was truly incapable of learning, Patrick argued, then how was he able to listen and learn how to start Patrick’s bike in just a matter of minutes? Clearly, John was capable of becoming a student. The parents were convinced and, with the support of Patrick in purchasing some basic scholastic materials, have enrolled John in nursery class. Do you see the power of a conversation? Let’s get talking for education!
World Disabilities Day is also incorporated into the 16 Days of Activism campaign since women and girls with disabilities are particularly vulnerable to violence. Women and girls with disabilities lack the same opportunities and access to resources as people living without disabilities and face more stigma and discrimination from their communities. Our 16 Days of Activism campaign celebrates the strengths, abilities, and unique contributions women with disabilities bring to every culture and society. Here is an example of how one of our grantee partners is contributing:
Not all disabilities are visible. Depression affects up to one in four women in Africa. Fear of stigmatization can prevent women from seeking help. They suffer in silence. StrongMinds provides group talk therapy to African women so they can alleviate their depression. Seventy-five percent of the women who enter our twelve-week therapy groups are depression free at the of the program. That means they can go on to focus on lifting themselves out of poverty and improving conditions for their children. Learn more at www.strongminds.org.
We invite you to take time to reflect on the situation of women and girls with disabilities around you and in your own culture.