Zimbabwe Parents of Handicapped Children’s Association (ZPHCA) through the Grand Funding from Miserior facilitated the hosting of the ZPHCA Youth with Disability National Convention at ROKPA Centre in Harare on the 8th of September 2023.
The Annual Youth with Disability Convention was attended by 43 youth with disabilities from the greater Harare Region and beyond. The event was also attended by various government departments, Civil Society Organization, and other community-based organizations. The Youth with Disability Convention was a perfect opportunity for youth with disabilities to collectively engage and dialogue with stakeholders on youth with disability priority issues.
Theresa Makwara, the ZPHCA Director was the Guest of Honor at the event. Also in attendance were the ZPHCA Board Members, Civil Society Organization, Parents, Support Group Leaders, Stakeholders, Community Leaders, Volunteers, and ZPHCA Staff Members.
The year 2023 edition of the Annual Youth with Disability Convention ran under the theme: ‘‘PROMOTING AND PROTECTING THE RIGHTS OF YOUTH WITH DISABILITIES IN ZIMBABWE’’. Youth with Disabilities who attended the workshop managed to work together and develop clear advocacy messages and key demands they want to see various stakeholders implement to ensure promotion, protection and fulfilment of youth with disability Rights in Zimbabwe. The gathered youth with disabilities with the guidance of the ZPHCA Staff Members adopted the following 10 Point Plan as their Advocacy Campaigning Tool.
Key National Advocacy Demands by ZPHCA Youth with Disabilities 2023 – Our Collectively Adopted 10-Point Advocacy Priorities for Youth with Disabilities by Youth with Disabilities.
- Stop Stigma and Discrimination of Children and Youth with Disabilities – As Youth with Disabilities, we challenge the Government and Stakeholders to expand community dialoguing platforms on harmful religious & cultural practices, norms & perceptions that discriminate against children and adolescents with disabilities as part of efforts to overcome wrong myths and misconceptions about disabilities.
- Let us work together to overcome Illiteracy amongst Youth with Disabilities – Government and Stakeholders should offer free educational opportunities and support for children and adolescents with disabilities so that they can attain literacy and independent living in the future. Youth delegates concluded that education comes with empowerment, employment opportunities, music, arts and sports opportunities, and prospects of earning decent salaries which are key in overcoming circles of poverty, exploitation, vulnerability, and abuse that characterize the lives of children and youth with disabilities.
- Stakeholders need to Focus on Identifying and Grooming Unique Talents amongst Children and Youth with Disabilities – All stakeholders working with youth with disabilities need to focus on early talent identification, nurturing, grooming and exposing such talents to National and Global Opportunities for financial and material gain.
- Localize National Disability Policy and UNCRPD at the Local level – as youth with disabilities request disability-friendly versions of Local, National, and International Disability Friendly Laws, Policies, and Conventions. As youth with disabilities, we request that Laws and Policies be translated into disability-friendly formats, youth-friendly versions and then localization of such Laws and policies including; the Constitution of Zimbabwe, UNCRPDs, National Disability Policy, Disabled Persons Act, National Development Strategy 1 (2021-2025), the Child Act and UNCRC amongst other Laws and Policies.
- As Youth with Disabilities, We Deserve Reasonable Accommodation – Youth with Disabilities challenges all stakeholders to consider constructing disability-inclusive infrastructure at every level of societal development, service providers quickly modify and construct accessible buildings for the benefit of children with disabilities. We further demand that all the sectors of the economy both in private and public spheres should make efforts to promote the inclusion and participation of children with disabilities in all their planning, programs, activities, feedback and good governance processes.
- As Youth with Disabilities, We Deserve Social and Economic Empowerment Opportunities – As Youth with Disabilities we request setting aside of Disability Grants, Economic Empowerment Grants, Business Loans, Entrepreneurship Opportunities, Access to Machineries, Access to business training and information, Access to formal and informal markets, Access to Value Addition Skills and Vocational Training Opportunities and other Support Services for youth with disabilities.
- Ensure Affordable and Accessible Assistive Devices for All – As Youth with Disabilities we challenge stakeholders to empower youth with disabilities to manufacture, service and repair Assistive Devices to reduce the costs of assistive devices. The Government needs to remove all import taxes changed on disability assistive devices and other related technologies.
- We Request Recognition and Participation of Children and Youth with Disabilities – stakeholders are challenged to ensure the inclusion of youth with disabilities in Budget Making, Policy Making, and Decision-Making processes in public and private spheres including at the Local Authority and National Government Levels.
- We Deserve Easy Access to Information on Disability – formal Sign Language training for Caregivers, children and adolescents with disabilities, teachers and other frontline service providers should be prioritised by stakeholders. Stakeholders are requested to offer youth with disabilities access to information on cross-cutting issues in disability-friendly formats and languages. Information on Disability Rights, Sexual Reproductive Health Rights, Disasters Management, HIV and AIDS, and Gender Justice amongst others.
- We Demand Access to Free Health and Rehabilitation Services and Support – health and rehabilitation services should be available and accessible to children with disabilities at the community and institutional levels to reduce the cost of travelling, time, and distances to the nearest service providers. Children with Disabilities require constant disability assessments and therapies to improve the functionality of body parts. Access to specialised medical examination, medication, and complimentary food deities are all key requirements for the proper growth and development of children with disabilities.