Nurse Rosebelle Mutuku remembers vividly the first time she encountered a patient with disability while on shift at the maternity wing of a local hospital. “She had her left leg amputated and needed a walking aid. The labor stage went well, but when it came to the delivery, the routine instructions that I would give to mothers while giving birth such as flexing of the legs and lying on the back proved difficult for her,” says nurse Mutuku. “I felt frustrated and helpless and had to seek help from the doctor and other nurses for a safe delivery.” 

 In 2020, UNFPA supported disability rights organization This-Ability Trust to conduct an assessment of healthcare workers’ skills on sexual and reproductive health and disability. The assessment established that many healthcare workers had sub-optimal skills to address SRH needs of persons with disabilities. This led to the launch of a five-week training course to equip healthcare workers with the knowledge and skills to provide rights-based non-discriminatory family planning, HIV and maternal health care, and gender-based violence response services to women and girls with disabilities.

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This-Ability Trust Managing Trustee Lizzie Kiama and Project Manager Maria Rosa Cevallos award certificates to healthcare workers who have completed the course

Persons with disabilities make up 2.2% of the Kenyan population, a majority of whom (57%), are women and girls. Women with disabilities often face prejudice, stigma, and discrimination in accessing health services. Limited knowledge and understanding of the health needs of persons with disabilities by healthcare providers also hinders access to sexual and reproductive health services and information for women with disabilities. “Majority of health workers have inadequate training and professional development about disability, which impacts on the way they provide care to people with disabilities,” says This-Ability Trust Managing Trustee, Ms. Lizzie Kiama.

For Catherine Syokau, a 30-year-old mother of one, her experience while giving birth as a woman with a lower limb disability reaffirmed her view that more effort needs to be made towards an inclusive healthcare system. “During my antenatal clinic visits, I would get strange looks from other women in the waiting area. After giving birth to my baby, staying at the hospital was challenging because the beds and toilets were not modified for a patient with disabilities,” she says. Ms. Syokau believes that programmes that adequately prepare healthcare workers and facilities to serve persons with disabilities should be given priority as the country moves to implement universal health coverage. 

a man in a wheelchair with a woman in a mask
Catherine Syokau is a mother and an advocate for the rights of women and girls with disabilities

Anne Gitonga, a nurse at the Riruta Health Center in the Nairobi City County successfully completed the course on sexual and reproductive health services and disability. “The training opened my eyes on how to better serve patients with disabilities by ensuring that their rights and needs are respected right from the initial consultation to the administering of treatment,” she says. Nurse Mutuku is also eager to improve her service delivery with knowledge gained from the course. “I am now more aware of the changes I need to make in providing services such as family planning. This should be a private conversation between the healthcare provider and the client which can be facilitated by learning sign language, or preparing information products in braille,” she says. 
 
Fifty healthcare workers who included nurses, midwives, and clinical officers have so far graduated from the course. “The healthcare workers trained through this programme are not only able to provide better services to persons with disabilities, but they also acquire skills to advocate for better policies that promote inclusive and accessible healthcare for women and girls with disabilities in public health facilities,” says UNFPA HIV and Disability Program Analyst, Ms. Lilian Langat. 

Like every emergency does, the Covid-19 Pandemic has had a disproportionate and larger negative impact on vulnerable communities. The pandemic has affected people of all categories, but persons with disabilities have been hardest hit.

In addressing challenges faced by persons with disabilities during these difficult times, UNFPA Representative, Dr. Ademola Olajide and This- Ability Trust Managing Trustee, Lizzie Kiama, set out to Kisumu and Kakamega counties to assess the impact of Covid-19 on the community and identify feasible mitigating measures.

The team interacted with women and girls with disabilities, the County Government leadership and disability focal points to explore the impact of Covid-19 on access to sexual and reproductive health information and services. The main challenges, according to the women, are stigma, discrimination

and insufficient capacity by health personnel to attend to women living with disabilities.

“Physical distancing is nearly impossible for many who rely on caregivers. We need assistance from people to get dressed, move about and even wash hands in public spaces to keep COVID19 away,” explained Benter Bella, the Chairperson of the Women with Disabilities Organisation.

A visit to Nyalenda Medical Centre confirmed lack of sufficient disability friendly infrastructure like beds, sign language interpretation, ramps, bathrooms and toilets. The team was told that there has been a drop in the number of visits since the COVID-19 pandemic hit the country.

UNFPA committed to work closely with the Kisumu County Government and This-Ability Trust to ensure improvement of service provision to women and girls with disabilities. Priority will be given to ensuring

improved infrastructure in a pilot medical facility and training of the medical personnel to reduce stigma, and improve communication with people with disability.

UNFPA donated assorted COVID-19 PPE kits to the Kisumu Government through the Kenya Red Cross. The donation was received by the Kisumu County Deputy Governor, Dr. Matthew Owili, and the County Executive Committee Members for Health, Prof. Boaz Nyunya.

The County Governor who also chairs the Council of Governors, H.E. Wycliffe Oparanya, received the team in Kakamega County. Governor Oparanya explained the milestones his government has made in improving access to medical services especially for persons with disabilities. He acknowledged existing gaps in access infrastructure, data collection, as

well as medical personnel training in sign language interpretation and braille, which he attributed to budgetary constraints. Kakamega County is in the final stages of developing a Disability Bill.

The UNFPA will work in partnership with This-Ability Trust to support infrastructure improvement, digital data collection on women with disabilities, and training of health personnel. UNFPA Representative, Dr. Ademola Olajide noted that overall, UNFPA will aim to strengthen the health system’s response to sexual and reproductive health needs of women with disabilities through robust partnerships with counties and implementing partners such as This-Ability.

UNFPA donated dignity kits to women and girls with disabilities in Kakamega and Kisumu counties during the mission.

Climate change is a sexual and reproductive health issue for women with disabilities. 

Kenya, a country in the East part of Africa was vastly a savanna grassland area, with climate ranging from cool and wet in the highland’s areas, hot and wet in the lowland areas and hot and dry in the arid and semi areas. Between 2020 and 2022, 16 of the 23 arid and semi arid areas have experienced a drought, this led to a Presidential declaration of a national disaster in 2021. 

At least 2.1 million people are severely food insecure and adopting irreversible coping strategies to meet their minimum food needs. The counties affected include Kwale, Kilifi, Tana River, Kajiado, Marsabit, Wajir, Mandera among others.

According to the 2019 National Census, 2.5% of women in Kenya had a disability. Stereotyping, stigma and unemployment are some of the challenges women with disabilities face every day. This Ability Trust and UNFPA Kenya  understand these issues and developed responsive interventions from a holistic approach. Our goal was no woman with disability be stripped of their SRR and  dignity because of the drought. We teamed up to donate dignity kits to over 100 women with disabilities in Kilifi and Kajiado County and provide mental health support for survivors of GBV. 

Our experience was that many women with disabilities often relied on informal employment such as farming. In Ganze,  Kilifi county, communities have not experienced rain in 3 years making it impossible to farm.  One of the women in our community meetings,  recounts how they have lacked water for prolonged periods meaning when they get water one has to debate whether to drink, farm or share with the animals. 

In pastoralists communities like Kajiado, the drought has led to increased cases of insecurity that has led to sexual gender-based violence on women with disabilities whose husbands have left their homes in search of pasture for the cattle. Water scarcity has limited access to safe water for drinking and for practicing basic hygiene at home, in schools and in health-care facilities. Health providers in Kajiado also attributed an increase in diseases such as urinary tract infections among women with disabilities.

In pastoralist communities, the responsibility to fetch water is a woman’s task. Most of the time, having to trek long distances and experiencing long queues, this becomes hard for women with physical disabilities. Additionally, when they get to the site, it is not always assured that one will get water. The introduction of eco-friendly dry toilets that used sawdust instead of water, is part of the innovations This Ability has implemented for women with disabilities. 

The culmination of inaccessible infrastructure, insecurity, drought and lack of income  by women with disabilities has seen an increase in cases of boda-boda riders sexually exploiting women and girls with disabilities in exchange for sanitary towels or food supplies. 

In parts of Kajiado that have access to salty water the option of reusable pads as an alternative to curb using dirty linen during menstrual cycle was offered. The pads are safer and minimize risk of leaking hence ensuring the girls continue to access school despite being on their period.

Our Mama Siri representatives in these counties hold regular community meetings to offer mental health support, sexual and reproductive and gender-based violence referrals and access to dignity kits to women with disabilities. 

PAZA – Episode 07

PAZA Podcast E07

Financial Inclusion for Women with Disabilities: a key to economic empowerment and ending economic injustices among women with disabilities.

Recorded September 30, 2020

Full Audio-Text Transcription

(MUSIC) Intro

Click above for Paza! episode 7

Hi, I am Lizzie Kiama, welcome to PAZA! Conversations with women with disabilities globally. PAZA! a Swahili word meaning to amplify is an initiative by This Ability Trust. PAZA! seeks to document and create visibility for the experiences of women and girls with disabilities.

Join our conversations on Twitter @pazapodcast, you can also follow This Ability on Twitter an Instagram @this_ability_ ke and on Facebook @thisability.ke.

Now, let’s get into today’s topic of discussion.

Lizzie: So the topic of today is Financial Inclusion for Women with Disabilities; a key to economic empowerment and ending economic and injustices among women with disabilities. And on this seventh episode of the PAZA podcast, we are very pleased to be joined by Juliet Muema and Margaret Kimani and I will let them introduce themselves. Juliet, do you mind going first?

Juliet: I am a woman living with disability. I’m visually impaired. And I’m also a business woman. I’ve been in business for the last five years. And I am happy to be a part of this team this morning.

Margaret:  Good morning, everyone. My names are Margaret Kimani. And I take care of women, youth and people living with disability at State Bank of Mauritius, in Kenya we just summarize it as SBM Bank and I’m very pleased to be here.

Lizzie: Great. Thank you both. So according to some statistics we know that, for example, the World Health Organization (WHO) speaks about to 15% of the global population being persons with disabilities. And then we also know, statistics show the female global population, 20% of those are made up of women with disabilities. And that women comprise of 75% of all persons with disabilities in low and middle income countries.

So it’s important for us to have these conversations particularly now during COVID, that a lot of business, a lot of engagement relies on technology. And that 65 – 70% are women with disabilities, the fact that they live in rural areas is problematic, because access to technology is not common around these areas. So for us, it’s important to have these conversations and understand what financial inclusion means to women with disabilities. And then also, you know, from the expertise, the banking sector for example what does financial mean?

So, I’ll start with you, Juliet, what does financial inclusion mean to you?

Juliet: Financial inclusion, to me would mean accessibility to financial services, for example, credit when I am in need. And funny should mention it, I don’t think there’s any financial institution in Kenya that has something specifically for women with disability. I think even generally for persons living with disability.

Margaret: So for us, financial inclusion is being accessible, being accessible, our services being accessible, and more importantly, being accessible in all the counties. For certain people with disabilities, for them, for some of them, digital solutions are more important to them. Perhaps maybe not fully. But we find, for example, people with living with physical disability, instead of them coming to our branches, it’s much easier if we could go to them. Others they can just log in and do you know, for the ones who have accessibility. But for us in a nutshell, accessibility means that we are offering financial inclusion, financial services without discrimination. Another thing that I would want to mention is that we are relationship bank.

So for us, we are very humbled and honored that our relationship managers and our relationship officers are not stuck in the office. Of course, we know that COVID has disrupted a lot of movement. But we encourage our staff to actually go to the client.

We do have Express outlets where somebody can be served within a few minutes, and it’s actually closer because they are right on the road.

Lizzie: That sounds amazing. So, in terms of the Express outlets, and you said, you visit customers, are these high end customers? Or how do you categorize the customers you visit? Can anyone request a visit to their place of business?

Margaret: Okay, good question, Lizzie. We have four different sectors. So we as a bank, we have divided the customer segment into three. So we do have the corporate, and then we have SME, Small Medium Enterprise. And then we have the retail customer, you know, Liz and I and Juliet and Maggie and Abdia, all of us are called retail or consumer banking, which I fall under.

So, when it comes to corporate, you’ll understand that most corporates you’ll visit them at their offices, most of the time, or they’ll come to us. And remember, at the end of the day, we do have to respect customers’ preference, some customers don’t like to be visited at home, Within SME the three sectors have told you, we do have broken it to now Centres of Excellence. So, my department is a Centre of Excellence and let me explain what I mean. So, a Centre of Excellence for example, is a centre in the head office that actually takes a deeper dive into the customer needs in that segment.

We do believe that, you know women need to be heard more women need to be economically empowered. And of course it’s starts with banking, accessibility to credit facilities, which I think we’ll be talking about later on.

I’ll tell you for sure, from my banking experience here in Kenya and abroad. I’ll tell you, for sure, Kenya, we are far from inclusion. If I can use that word for politely; Kenya, we are still far from inclusion as a country. And I think Juliet, you can agree.

Juliet: So my experience with one particular bank, which I won’t mention, they said because I’m visually impaired, I’m like a liability.

Margaret: Oh no.

Juliet: It’s a fact. So once I had gotten an order, and then after they (the bankers) gave me the requirements, they’re like, by the way you are partially blind, right? Yes. So they were like utaweza kulipa (will you be able to pay)?

And then later on, to cut the long story short, I didn’t get the credit I needed for that order. So that is the reality in most banks in Kenyan, they believe that persons, women living with disability are a liability. They don’t think that once we get a loan that will be able to repay it.

Margaret: Oh my god. That is so sad, Juliet. I don’t even know the word. If I could call it, I don’t know how they call it in Kenya, its discrimination. It’s straight up discrimination. And I think in other countries, you could even sue for it. I’m not trying to ask you to sue, but it’s actually a human rights denied, you know?

Lizzie: For us, we wanted to have this initial conversation and see how we can work together to increase access. I know, you know, you talk about the different ways that SBM has ensured accessibility. But in terms of disability inclusion, there might be some tweaking that needs to happen, so that you’re catering fully to this population.

So really, this was just to an introductory conversation for you as a representative of SBM, to hear from experiences of women in business, like Juliet, who has experience with accessing AGPO, for example, so I’m sure Juliet can also talk about her specific challenges around AGPO and I’m sure she would appreciate knowing that there are some key players who pay who engage with their clients in a more professional manner. I have heard of stories of delayed payments, which affects your credit at the bank and you know, the loan that you take.

But also I like the fact that, Margaret, you mentioned you have a small community of Deaf clients and your banking relationship is very personalized. For me, and I think for anyone, when they walk into the bank, as much as the bank has thousands of customers, my relationship with my bank is on an individual basis. So that personalized service is super important. So I’m curious whether your technology takes that into consideration. So for example, if you’re visually impaired, Juliet, what are your needs when it comes to accessing mobile apps?

Juliet: For me, I consider myself a bit fortunate because I have a smartphone. And so that means when once the screen reading software is enabled it can work with all apps, but for someone with totally low vision would want the font either to be bigger, which I think at times you can do it from your phone. So personally, I think with my phone I am able to access most of the apps, and they like the fact that Margaret spoke about the apps and how your bank is moving towards digital accessibility. In all the banks I am in I have to physically visit the bank.

Margaret: They’re not serious, no.

Juliet: I have low vision, not blind, that means I can see to some extent. So when I walk in the bank with my white cane they already have a perception about me; walk into the same bank without the white cane again, the services they’ll give me are again different. I can’t speak on everyone behalf, but it’s a fact that is how the situation is on the ground. So whatever services they peg it on the fact that I have a disability.

Three weeks we walked into a bank, we were opening an account for a disabled group.

So I told the person at the service desk that I’m visually impaired so I’m not able to write and I needed him to help me. And my friend, the one I was with has, he doesn’t have hands.

So, the first lady we saw, sent us to the next person because she was busy. And then the next person said, “hamuwezi tutafuta mtu akusaidie, I’m a bit busy” (can’t you get someone else to assist you).

Margaret: What?

Juliet: Yes, so I stepped back, I went to someone else and requested to speak to the manager. So by the time I am requesting, these guys have already seen me. So I don’t know whether it was true or not, we were told that the manager is not in but we can see I don’t know someone called the Business Development Manager. And as I was approaching his office, the person who led me there, I could see him whispering into his ear, then walked away.

Margaret: You are joking!?

Juliet: Yes, so of course, I really vented and they told them, I need a form to close my company accounts. And that’s when everybody started shaking, and everyone was saying sorry. I feel like when you have a disability, you have to work twice as hard as quote unquote the normal people you know. I’m bringing business, I’m opening an account, my money is not disabled.

Margaret: Exactly. Exactly.

Juliet: And why they saw my account balance they started apologizing and saying that they can open an account, of course, I didn’t even open we didn’t even open the accounts.

Margaret: Why do you have to look at the balance? Do you have to look at my balance and say that I’m Chris Kirubi, to serve me well?

Juliet: I think your bank may be a bit different. This other bank, sorry to say, I’ll give an example, I got another order, I went for credit. Of course, they gave me a lot of hurdles saying your account has not been active and so on. And then they said I have vision problems, will you be able to pay? So of course, we didn’t get loan. Later on we got an individual who financed me to do the business. When we were paid that’s when the bank said the next time they’ll loan me. Honestly? Does my account have to reflect money for you to see my potential?

Margaret: Exactly, and you are the same person, before and now.

Juliet: Yes, I’m the same person. In fact he went to the extent of telling me he could personally finance me, we agree on the interest rate if the banks are still not lending to me. And that is after him seeing the payments coming through.

Now, Margaret, sadly, this is the situation. And for me, I’m what I’m here to talk about. If you listen to stories out there. A lot of people don’t even go to banks for credit, they have individuals who come to you, they give you 100,000 we agree I pay back at 25%. It’s like we have lost hope in banks.

Margaret: I have become like a lobbyist, an advocate. So what happens is that you see, for me, I also have to train branches on inclusion together with our HR we are lobbying for inclusion.

In some places where we are even renting, you’ll find that a branch might not be in a proper location for, you know, for inclusion in terms of accessibility. But the more we lobby, even our administrator, our procurement officers are saying, wow, so the next time when we opening a branch, we have to do this checklist that Maggie is fighting about, you know, if you understand.

I think the more we talk about this thing in terms of tomorrow I can be disabled. Remember, yeah, human beings who have lost their eyesight as adults. I don’t know if you’ve come across those.

Lizzie: Okay, thank you. Thank you ladies.

Lizzie: You’re listening to PAZA Episode 7: Conversations with women and girls with disabilities globally. Today we’re exploring financial inclusion for women with disabilities; a key to economic empowerment and ending economic injustices among women with disabilities.

(MUSIC) Interlude

Partnership Appreciation – UNFPA, Global Fund for Women and ForumCiv

According to World Health Organization (WHO), 15% of the global population are persons with disabilities; studies also show that 20% of the female population are women with disabilities. In Kenya, 65 – 70% of persons with disabilities live in rural areas with little to no access to technology and financial inclusion. 

This Ability Trust is grateful for the support provided by UNFPA, Global Fund for Women and ForumCiv in our work on the use of technology to increase access to economic empowerment among women with disabilities across 8 counties.

This message is approved by This Ability Trust.

(END OF MUSIC)  End of Interlude

Lizzie: And welcome back, you’re listening to PAZA: Conversations with women and girls with disabilities globally. This is Episode 7, we are exploring financial inclusion for women with disabilities, a key to economic empowerment and ending economic injustices among women with disabilities.

So welcome back guys.  In an effort to ensure that we also capturing experiences from different parts of Kenya, we have a recording from Kakamega County, and we will now listen to Susan Erinah.

Recording – Susan Erinah from Kakamega County

And it has been a challenge for me accessing capital, because sometimes I get the Local Purchase Order (LPO), I don’t know where to get the money or do the business itself. Even the payments are delayed, mostly I supply to health facilities and the government paying me becomes a challenge.

I do not stay in Kakamega town, I stay in a sub-county called Matungu, where is no bank. I have to go to Mumias. Yes Mumias we have 3 banks but I got discouraged with the Women Enterprises Fund so I thought the bank will take me through the tedious process again.

That time I am desperate, I want the money, I want to do the supplies and even the procurement officer is on your neck, they want the supplies. I got discouraged, I’ve never bothered visiting a bank and asking all those details again.

I cannot go to the mama mboga (local grocery) and tell her to just give me the tomatoes I’ll pay you after one year. Nobody will accept that. You have to have the cash. Now because you will get the money from someone you expecting the government to pay you almost immediately but they delay payment for one year. By the time I’m getting paid I am worked up. You have nothing.

As a woman with a disability even just accessing the bank means I have to go to someone to help me move around; that is another expense. And somebody somewhere in the office just decides to pay me after one year. It’s quite a pity. I’ve heard people say how the banks frustrate people now I got scared.

End of Recording

Lizzie: So to follow up on that, I think since the experience is more or less similar with Juliet’s experience. It would be nice to hear from you, Margaret, what it takes to get a loan from the bank? What would be the requirements? You know, what is the bare minimum an individual should have? And how then can we apply that to the reality of women with disabilities?

Margaret: Short, because requirements can be very long, depending on, different sectors have different needs. So perhaps, I’ll just summarize, you know, just to make sure that we addressed Susan’s question. The first thing I want to say is that for us there, the advantage we have, and I’m not trying to market the bank, it’s a fact, for example, you will find somebody in agribusiness, the requirements will be different from somebody who is supplying. Or even a business that is registered, as opposed to somebody who is operating a business under their personal name. So the requirements are very different. We don’t try to make it so complicated, you know, like cast on stone. We are very flexible and we like considering the relationship aspects.

We like considering hearing customer’s scenario, as opposed to just you know, copy and paste all to be the same, no. When a customer calls we usually establish, if they have a relationship with us. And if they don’t, for lending purposes, we usually prefer that I’m sure most of the customers would have gone through a relationship like that.

Lizzie: When you say relationships, do you mean they have a bank account?

Margaret: Yeah, yeah, because we are mandated. I think you know when terrorism started happening, and people are just moving money from one place to another, that was one of the key requirements, all banks have to even I believe saccos.

But for us, what we do is, for example, let me use an example of Abdia.  So if Abdia walks in the bank, and she needs lending, you know, so we usually just say, give us the previous banking records you do have. And this brings to my point, you know, for any customer, anybody out there hearing me, it’s very important that you keep records.  

Globally a research was done and one of the problems, one of the reasons that was found why most people do not have access to banking, have limited access to banking lending is because of we don’t keep records very well.

But globally, even here in Kenya more so, let me give you an example, if I am running a business, I mean, I have a young child, and my nanny would call some days as they don’t have cooking gas, gas imeisha (gas is finished). So usually, you’ll find that the money I’ve sold in my shop, for example, I’m sending it to her. So really you’ll find that sometimes we are not structured in our record keeping. So it’s very important guys, I cannot overemphasize record keeping is actually one of the things. And I’ll tell you the advantage of working with a bank, and I’m not necessarily talking about SBM bank, I’m not here to market, I’m here to add value. The advantage of working with banks is that you get the cheapest, cheapest lending.

Now, even if you’re receiving that money, let it go through your bank account, because guess what your MPesa statements can also be a record, that would add value to your lending.

Another thing that I want to point out is one is unpaid cheques, where you’ve probably written a check to somebody and it bounced. And this one is like what we call a “red flag”, and it’s global. When you pay somebody make sure that there’s enough money in your account as opposed to that check bouncing. It actually shows negatively on your credit reports, I don’t know Lizzie, if we can have a session where we talk about credit reporting and how to even improve on your bankability.

Lizzie: Can I just jump in before I forget this thought, you mentioned three things that I picked up on in terms of the way forward. You talked about credit reporting, you talked about record keeping, and you talked about general bankability. For me, that’s interesting, because This Ability has developed an eLearning platform, where we are we are providing necessary skills in different areas.

Margaret: Okay

Lizzie: One of the things that we wanted to discuss with SBM, or rather with you as a representative of SBM, is the idea to develop, to partner to develop a course on financial inclusion that we would now offer to the different groups. We work in eight counties, and we have a network of about 500 women with disabilities across these eight counties. So if these are the requirements that banks need for women with disabilities, how can we begin to build those skills among the women with disabilities?

So we think that, you know, our eLearning platforms, and we piloted this in three counties right now in this period of COVID, and uptake has been really good. It would be useful if we could continue this conversation and zone in on those areas that you’re talking about that are necessary for a bank and its consideration to financial inclusion for a woman in a disability. So those area, what does credit reporting mean, from a practical standpoint, what does it take to keep records that the bank would deem feasible, what is bankability in general? So for me, it would be useful, and it was for it to do practical, tailored solution that we offer women with disabilities. Our platform is fully accessible to the different disability types. And right now, we also trying to simplify the language so that we can also include communities of individuals with intellectual disabilities.

And I would just like for us to begin thinking of how else what other ideas we have for the approach around financial inclusion and its practicality. So how can we ensure that this is the norm, and we avoid experiences like Susan’s and Juliet’s, and we ensure economic empowerment is the reality for women with disabilities. So can we maybe spend like five to ten minutes discussing the way forward? And how the banking sector can enhance financial inclusion? And from you Juliet, what would you like to see?

Juliet: Okay, maybe before Margaret answers your question, I have a comment and it’s for banks generally. So when banks are advertising themselves, they have all these goodies, I can call them. Once you’re inside, the tables change.

Margaret: Yeah.

Juliet: So my question to Margaret, and I hope it’s not selfish question. Me being in business means that, at times, my account will not be active every other month. Fine, at least now you’ve educated me, and now I probably know a little bit on how to go about that, but there’s analysis that the bank does. It doesn’t mean every month I’ll have an order and when I’m coming in for credit that’s one of the things you guys look at.

Do you have a mechanism, or is it still the same? That if my account, the analysis comes in that the last six months have not been active, that I now don’t qualify for credit, because this is one of the reasons that we are driven to these loan sharks. You know?

Margaret: Yeah.

Juliet: And funny thing is, they give us money and then the money kicks in the account, then you as the bank sees that you’re able to pay. But before this analysis I am not able to access credit.

Margaret: True, true, true, very good question Juliet and it is so true and I think I can agree with you thoroughly because I also work with all banks and I am in that sector, so it is so true.  

You see for banks to change the regulations, we have to go to Central Bank of Kenya (CBK), which is another window that I don’t even want to discuss here. But they’re our regulator, because they have to make sure that when you, Juliet, bring your million today, they have to make sure that there’s liquidity. I think you’ve heard about it, we have to make sure that or when Lizzie comes to get her money, even though Juliet brought a million, it’s ready and there are not many excuses, you know.

But what we’re doing as a bank, diversity and inclusion, we started the work early this year before Covid, thorough work that I mentioned before; we are working with International Labor Organization, we are even internally working with our HR and our credit department. Remember, I’m not in credit, I am in business, but we are the ones who educate them.

So what we are trying to do right now is, once we have this checklist from different organizations, for example, that women-led organizations, youth-led organizations, now you come in, disability, we have any will be able to build a very strong case that can be presented even to CBK Governor to say no, here, we have to take care of our people living with disability.

Lizzie: And I just wanted to mention, as we are working on policy changes and we’re looking at the bigger picture, you mentioned something around training, you as the Centre of Excellence, you keep training other departments. And you mentioned procurement departments and credit departments, which are the ones that also have a direct engagement or interaction with your clients or affect the extent to which clients will access your services.

I wanted to address the issue of unconscious bias. Sometimes we focus on physical infrastructure, we focus on ensuring there are ramps, there’s railing and all these things. But we forget that as people, we interact with disability in a very negative way. And it’s important when we are addressing diversity and inclusion to also train people to help them unlearn some of the concepts they’ve picked up on since childhood. Because it starts from the home front, how people interact with disability. So it’s for us who are in the know, to provide learning experiences, learning opportunities for people to unlearn some of the biases that they hold dear. It’s very unconscious, people don’t do it on purpose. No one, you know, decides I will wake up today and I will discriminate on individuals with disabilities.

Margaret: True.

Lizzie: But we have learned to associate disability with curses, with poverty or negativity. Those are things we hold dear, you know, as individuals and they show up in invisibility of the rights of people with disabilities, in our policies, it shows up in how we program, it shows up in our service delivery. So it’s important when we are doing our trainings to incorporate a component of helping people unlearn.

Margaret: I love what you’ve said because I could not agree with you more. What you’ve said is so true. Sometimes it’s unconscious bias. And I feel that for us to bring this to the next level, it would be nice if we can have a session with you, to know what are some of the unconscious biases so that slowly, but surely, we start breaking some of this unconscious bias, because it’s a killer, I’ll tell you, it’s the biggest challenge we have.

Because like you said,  some of these disabilities, people associate them, for lack of a better understanding or lack of knowledge,  like the Bible saying, you know, for lack of understanding people associated it with something you didn’t do, something your mother didn’t do, something your father, you know, your family; and it’s actually taken as a negative.

Juliet: No, this was a wonderful session, Margaret, you brought in the human aspect of a bank. And it sounds funny, but for the first time I felt like I’m talking to a human being. And you actually sold me on SBM, maybe. Keep up the good job. It feels good to know that people think about us also. And Lizzie and This Ability, you’re a wonderful team. Thank you again for this opportunity.

Lizzie: Thank you for making time to join us. We appreciate the partnership, both of you.

Juliet: Wonderful.

Margaret: Thank you. If anyone of you wants my contact feel free; we can chat later. Juliet, it’s not about you banking with us. It’s about us as human beings and even linking you with opportunities. So that you are a case study of successful people living with disability.

Juliet: Exactly, exactly. And like Lizzie said, a lot of people also associate disability with poverty. That is why they have that mentality of “will you really pay,” and that’s not the story, it’s not always the same. Thank you very much, Margaret and God bless you. God bless you all.

Margaret: Ahsante.

Lizzie: Okay, have a nice day. Ladies. Thank you.

Margaret: Thank you, thank you.

Lizzie: Bye

(MUSIC) Outro

Lizzie: I am Lizzie Kiama and you’ve been listening to PAZA! Conversations with women and girls with disabilities globally. You can also follow This-Ability of Twitter an Instagram @this_ability_ ke and on Facebook @thisability.ke.

Join me next month for another stimulating conversation. In the meantime, follow us on Twitter @pazapodcast to continue the conversation on the experiences of women and girls with disabilities. Until next time, stay safe.

THE END

Paza – Episode 6

PAZA Podcast E06

Exploring Digital Literacy as an essential tool for empowering women and girls with disabilities.

Recorded Tuesday August 25, 2020

Full Audio-Text Transcription

(MUSIC) Intro

Click above for Paza Episode 6

Hi, I am Lizzie Kiama, welcome to PAZA! Conversations with women with disabilities globally. PAZA! a Swahili word meaning to amplify is an initiative by This-Ability Trust. PAZA! seeks documenting and creating visibility for the experiences of women and girls with disabilities

Join our conversation on Twitter @pazapodcast, you can also follow This-Ability of Twitter an Instagram @this_ability_ ke and on Facebook @thisability.ke.

Now, let’s get into today’s topic of discussion.

Lizzie: What do you girls feel about digitaldada?

Martha: I think it’s a really good campaign to be able to show young women who are entering into the digital space and learning all these new skills, and they’re able to use them to better their lives. And they’re able to use them to do things that they didn’t think they were able to do. And for others to see that this is someone who did not have this skill but when they were given us to be able to do something really big with their lives.

Lizzie: Okay, we will go round.

Lizzie: Jacinta, are you proud to be a digital dada?

Jacinta: Yes, of course.

Lizzie: Veronica, are you proud to be a digital dada?

Veronica: Yes.

(laughter)

Lizzie: Martha, are you proud to be a digital dada?

Martha: Yes, I am proud to be a digital dada.

Lizzie: Jacinta, do you want to just introduce yourself, tell us who you are, your name?

Jacinta: I am Jacinta Odima, I am woman living with a disability. I am passionate about empowering women and girls specifically women with disability and # I advocate inclusion.

Veronica: Okay, I am Veronica Akinyi. I am a proud person living with a disability. And I am passionate about helping the elderly so much especially those who have gone through an accident, I actually have passion for them because I’ve gone through that I know how it’s like.

And yeah, I am a proud digital dada.

Maryanne: I am Maryanne, I am a mentor, I also advocate for persons with a disability but sana sana youth and because youth are the left behind kwa mambo ya empowerment, skills na pia job opportunities kama zile job za mtaani. Yes, and I’m very proud the way I am, nimejikubali vile mimi tu niko and I can say many changes have come into my life na nina tamani kama other people like me to experience those things because they are good. Yes, #digitaldada

(laughter)

Martha: My name is Martha Nzomo, I have albinism and I am proud to have albinism. I have accepted my condition and I love skin that I am in. I am also very passionate about advocacy. Of late I’ve been doing a lot of advocacy and education on albinism. And at the moment, in that organization I’m interning with we are doing a lot in the digital space. And it’s sort of coincides with what I am learning in the digital marketing classes. And I’m really enjoying being able to learn and then come in apply in the work place. And yes, I’m a proud #digitaldada.

(laughter)

Lizzie: So this particular episode of the podcast is focusing on digital literacy. Thank you for coming. And thank you for making time to speak with us. And I just wanted to for us to look at probably our backgrounds before we started this program, in terms of how we accessed technology, if we accessed it. How we use social media what challenges we have? First of all on social media, which platforms are we on? Why we are on this particular platform as opposed to the other platform, are there issues around accessibility for women with disabilities, given different disability types? How accessible is the internet in your from your homes because now with Corona, everyone is doing everything from home so it’s not like you can see you can go into the CBD or you know, or go to a place where there is better internet. So in from home from the convenience of your homes, because also our eLearning platform, one of the selling points is that you can access the E learning platform from the comfort of your home. So how realistic is it you know? And what challenges are there also in our education system? Does it equip us as young women with disabilities to ensure that we are successful? When we finish school, and now we want to look for jobs, you know, what skills do employers look for? And do this, the schools that we went to, are they do they offer those skills? When you go to when you want to find work in you, you’re looking for work in the private sector? What skills are necessary to thrive in that environment versus maybe working in the community or working with a nonprofit? You know, is there a difference in skills? And are we do we feel like we are equipped? And then also going to some of your recommendations, what do we think can be done to increase uptake of technology amongst young people with disabilities and what can government do? So in a nutshell, we just want to have conversations around that.

Yeah. Does that feel okay? And if there’s something you feel that we should be discussing, please as always feel free to let me know and add and I’m sure all of you are happy to do that, sawa sawa?

So how actively do you use technology? And in no order please just feel free.

Jacinta: All the time.

Lizzie: All the time, okay.

Veronica: Any time I’m free.

Lizzie: Okay. Yes. How do you use it?

Veronica: I use it mostly for…my like LinkedIn I use for jobs, Facebook I use it for selling.

Lizzie: What do you sell on Facebook?

Veronica: I work for a car financing company, so I look for clients there.

Lizzie: Okay, okay.

Jacinta: On my end I use my mobile phone mostly for learning and then WhatsApp for chatting. I also use the social media, Facebook mostly for advocacy and also if I want to know what is trending.

Like, recently I’ve been focusing more on amputees. And then how do you how do you cope after you’ve lost something that you had? And how to come out from that? Yeah. And also how to the process for this the beginning stages of acquiring a prosthesis to the final stage, I like that part, so I like sharing mostly. And then also I use Twitter and I use LinkedIn for looking for a job, but that site you look for professional and mature people.

(laughter)

Lizzie: So, ok. So where are the immature ones? 

(laughter)

Lizzie: And TikTok?

Jacinta: I don’t like TikTok.

Martha: I take offence in that.

(laughter)

Jacinta: Really? I am sorry for that. So those are the areas in social media I am mostly use.

Lizzie: Why do you take offence?

Martha: Because I love TikTok. It is so fun. Honestly you will go into TikTok and it will be morning and you will not regret not having slept because you had so much fun on TikTok.

Lizzie: Okay, what happens on TikTok?

Martha: They are videos, mostly videos, people dancing or funny cats and dogs. And you’ll just be laughing the whole time. And I’ve actually been able to get in touch with many people with albinism through TikTok who live around the world. Yes, because you can use hashtags. So if you just search #albinism I will find all these videos of different people with albinism explaining their condition or just making funny videos that if you had albinism you would understand but if you don’t you’ll be like “oh my gosh, that is so mean”.

(laughter)

Yes, it is pretty fun. Yes.

Lizzie: Maryanne, do you want to TikTok? Are you on TikTok?

Maryanne: Kidogo tu, I am still…

(laughter)

Lizzie: So, which platforms are you in?

Maryanne: I am on Facebook, but niliingia juzi juzi tu, I am still a new member. But still imesaidia sana because I got a job at Kenya Charity Sweepstake and lot of links…so I share links on Instagram, Facebook so people can see what they are doing the community.

Lizzie: And how easy is it for you guys to use technology, internet, social media, mobile phones?

Veronica: Bundles, aaaii?

(laughter)

Lizzie: So affordability is an issue?

Veronica: It’s so hard but we are trying.

(laughter)

Veronica: Safaricom!

Lizzie: So, it is expensive?

Veronica & Maryanne: So expensive.

Veronica: Kwanza saa hii, everyone is at home so the network is extremely slow. 

Lizzie: So not only it is expensive but also the quality is also not the best.

Okay, so what do you do?

Veronica: You just survive with what is available. Everything is so slow, you are supposed to finish your work within one hour, but can take another one hour to finish it. Your boss will be like…? You have to explain why.

Lizzie: Yeah, well, and for the streaming of the video.

Martha: For me, I see I’m very privileged. I live with my sister and she works a lot from home, so she just pays the WiFi. So I’m able to use that WiFi.  I am also able to work from home most of the time. And so for us, we just thought that it would be easier if we get WiFi because it is more reliable, we will both be able to finish our work, meet our deadlines on time. Yes, it is costly, but when we consider purchasing bundles, if you look at the costs per month of what you use on WiFi versus what you will use personally when you buy bundles on your phone, it is much more sort of cheaper. Yes, in the long run.

Lizzie: Both of you said, Veronika and Martha, you said you work from home and you use the internet to work from home. When did you start working from home?

Veronica: Since early April.

Lizzie: So based on Corona?

Veronica: Yeah.

Lizzie: And were you able to go through a training in order to comfortably do the work?

Veronica: No. As per the trainings have received previously, including that at This-Ability, I had much knowledge on that.

Lizzie: So this training happened after high school or also in school?

Veronica: After.

Lizzie: So do you think our education system is equipped to handle the needs of today’s employers?

Veronica: No

Maryanne: No

Jacinta: Mh-Mh.

Martha: No.

Lizzie: Would you say today’s employers are requiring people to be more technologically knowledgeable?

Veronica: For example of me, I am doing sales and marketing right now but in campus I studied education.  So you see…as long as you’re passionate about what you’re doing, go for it.

Lizzie:  And so that passion, is passion enough or do you have to take it upon yourself to learn these skills?

Veronica: Passion. But you see these education system, they want you when, I was a Jab student, so when you’re a jab student there is a class they need you to take

Lizzie: What is Jab?

Veronica: Jab? Jab means you are a government sponsored student.  So, when you are a Jab student, they need you to get a certain cluster points ndio ufanye ile course unataka. So my cluster points could not reach my passionate profession.

Lizzie: Which was what?

Veronica: Business. Anything business. So I had to take education. So hiyo karatasi nime iweka tu.

(laughter)

Lizzie: So you finished campus and you started doing trainings on business and sales, okay. And you, Martha?

Martha: So for me, I was working from home even before Corona. I studied finance and most of the things I do in the organization I’m interning for are to do with finance and we usually use a software, and the software is, of course, on the computer. So if I just have a laptop with me and I have either it’s the receipts that I need to input their numbers or any to create requisitions I can do all that on the computer.

And no, I didn’t actually save this training from school, which was actually disappointing because I did a whole degree program and nothing that I am doing right now was ever spoken about in school, at all, I had to learn all this on the job.

Lizzie: Okay, Maryanne, Jacinta, what are your feelings about the education system and how it ensures young people are ready for the workplace.

Jacinta: I think the education system in Kenya, for now, is not helping because what the employer is looking for is more than what you’ve learned. For example, if let’s say I have done administration, the employer will not only look at the administration itself, because like you see right now we have the new technology. So we have to be good in ICT, to know more about ICT. And also most of the jobs that are coming up right now they’re not focusing on the books. They’re focusing on the talents and the skills that you have.

Lizzie: So what do you know is happening in your different communities to ensure that either young people with disabilities, for example, you say you’re interning, is there anything you guys are specifically doing? Or do you know of other organizations that are specifically apart from disability and our hashtag?

(laughter)

Because we also have to point out the different resources that are out there for other people with disabilities, do you know of any?

Jacinta: In terms of entrepreneurship?

Lizzie: In terms of entrepreneurship, in terms of increasing technology, digital skill, in terms of advocacy, because technology can be applied across board.

Martha: So as I work with the consumer called Positive Exposure Kenya, we do advocacy and education for people with albinism. In the past, we will have physical meetings to teach this young parents about what albinism is, how to raise a child and the needs that they have, but because of Corona, we cannot have this public gatherings. And so what we decided to do, we had been thinking about it in the past, but decided to speed up the process. And we were thinking of creating an app, which is called Albinism and I, where parents or young people with albinism or anyone in the community can just log in and get all this information from an app on your phone. So we do not have to physically go to Machakos or Nyeri. If you can download the application, you just get all the information there from the application. And something else that we’ll be doing with the application is linking people with albinism in specific and service providers – so these are people who provide prescription glasses, or people who provide them with dermalogical care because of the sun and people who can be able to link them with sunscreen, and protective clothing because these are the main needs that people with albinism have. So yeah, that’s one of the things we’ve been doing.

And we’ve also been doing skills training. So when Corona first came we taught a few women how to make masks. And this was something that they come to the office for, we have the sewing machines in the office. So we taught them and now they’re able to just come in the office make the masks, either for their own families or if they are planning to sell them, and then they can be able to earn money. So they don’t come in asking for money because we don’t have food. And are they able to earn on their own? We also taught them how to meet ponchos and scarves, so they can be able to sell.

Lizzie: Where do they sell?

Martha: In their communities, but now through the application, we also have an eShop. So that was also something that we added on the application. Because nowadays people are buying everything online, so they can advertise that and just sell on the app.

(MUSIC) Interlude

Lizzie: You are listening to PAZA Episode 6: Conversations with women and girls with disabilities globally. Today, we are exploring digital literacy as an essential tool for economic empowerment. We are taking a short break to highlight our partners who support our work on digital literacy. Remember to follow our #digitaldada campaign on Twitter and Facebook.

Partnership Appreciation – UNFPA and Global Fund for Women

Martha: Hi, my name is Martin Nzomo and I am a digital dada. Lack of data on women and girls with disabilities perpetuates their invisibility and lack of representation in Kenya. This-Ability Trust thanks her partners UNFPA and Global Fund for Women for their support on our work to increase data collection among women and girls with disabilities using technology.

This message is approved by This-Ability Trust.

(END OF MUSIC)  End of Interlude

Lizzie: Welcome back. You’re listening to PAZA: Conversations with women and girls with disabilities globally. This is Episode 6: Exploring digital literacy as an essential tool for economic empowerment.

So for you, Veronica, you mentioned that you did a degree in education. So your passion was in business and sales, and you did not get any skills from school, any digital skills, they did not train you or equip you. And you had to-

Veronica: Look for it myself.

Lizzie: You had to find these skills for yourself. And the same for you, Martha. You did a degree in finance, but unfortunately, your words you are disappointed.

Martha; Yes. Yes, I was.

Lizzie: That your school was not able also to provide you with the necessary skills to allow you to thrive.

Martha: Yes, the skills that were needed in the job market.

Lizzie: So what do we think these skills are? What do you think employers are looking for?

Veronica: We are in the 21st century and that means, ukitoka campus you need to have anything in ICT. Basically, you must be well equipped. Even if you are a teacher like me, you must be way up. So if they can introduce that in training colleges or universities, employability will be just fine.

Lizzie: What about you?

Martha: Well, for me, I talk about the finance, financial world, basically. So when you’re in school, you’re taught how to do things physically, like balancing a cheque book, you’re taught how to do it in writing, but when you go out there and you’re looking for a job, that are various softwares that organizations use, they don’t do this manually. And they ask you do you know how to use them? Or do you know to use QuickBooks? And they are like, you have a degree how do you now not know how to use them? Do you know SPSS? And you have no idea and what that stands for. And so now you have to start from scratch, they have to teach you, or you have to go online and search for it yourself and have to learn as you’re practicing. So those are the type of things that they need to teach not just theory, but the practical in the digital space, because many things are now digitalized. Yeah, you don’t keep files physically. You do it in a digital technological way to transfer these files and these are things that we are not taught in school.

Lizzie: So if you’re not taught in school and school is where young people go to get this knowledge so that they are successful after high school, whether it is in self-employment or you know, employment, where else can people go? Do you know, where young people can go to get this information, the skills?

Martha: I think of late there has been a rise in online learning. Many people are going to Google to look for places where they can learn these skills online. For example, this organization called Allison, they offer courses in basically everything and they are free of charge. Unfortunately, you can’t verify whether the information is credible. That is the one thing that is unfortunate, because yes, you will learn it, but you’re not sure that you’re learning it as per what the organization is going to be asking or requiring from you. But I think that’s one of the places where people go to look for skills, online learning.

Lizzie: So if you’re in the rural areas ama mashinani because young people are not only urban areas they also mashinani, where do they go?

Veronica: Do they even know if they if that platform exists? Let’s start from there.

(laughter)

Lizzie: Na mukienda ushago, is there internet?

Maryanne: It’s so hard.

Jacinta: No. Besides the internet, even the electricity. Yeah, and when you say like to use your phone, you won’t use it because sometimes you have to charge your phone very far…in the market.

(laughter)

Jacinta: So I think online, it doesn’t work. And then also I think the most thing that employers are looking for is the soft skills. The soft skills we don’t get them in school. Nowadays they look at, yes you have the knowledge, but how you present yourself is the one that matters. You have like, when you are going for an interview, do you have that confidence that you’re able to do that work? Let’s say, for example, you’ve done education, and you’ve done other trainings like in digital marketing, the presentation that we present ourselves to the employer is the one that matters; it will it either help you get that job or you will not get that job. So sometimes we might have this skills but mostly what they’re looking for these days is the soft skills. Are you able to present yourself? And are you able to do your work well? This is lacking. And this you don’t get them in some schools?

Lizzie: So is this the role of school or is it something that should happen after school?

Jacinta: Parenting, that differs for each and every person, how to raise their children, but with the society that we are in and the technology, how you discipline or how you teach them to be really matters because mostly in the world, they are focusing on the talent, what this child they can do better, and what they cannot do better. And I think in Africa, we are yet to understand. Because you find, as parents, sometimes we force our children to do what they know they are not good at. You find we’re told we’re supposed to become a doctor. And yet you want to become an engineer? And maybe you are good in music. And to them that one is not a job. So the way we raise them matters or not?

Lizzie: So we do have a role to play. So back to this question of mashinani…so Veronica, you said if the youth even know these platform exists? Facebook, TikTok…

(laughter)

Veronica: That one they know.

Jacinta: Most of them have smart phones.

Lizzie: How can we ensure that more young people especially those with disabilities, in in the rural areas have access to internet, when we are saying that even Safaricom is limited, even electricity is not available everywhere. What can be done?

Martha: We can take such forums to them, because we cannot give it to them digitally.

Lizzie: Okay. So, conversations should not only be in Nairobi but should be taken down to mashinani.

And since we are talking about technology that like we have decided it is a good thing. We’ve decided technology is a good thing. But what are some of the disadvantages?

Veronica: Disadvantages? Okay, like my case, I use it to a specifically for selling. So you see like I’ve advertised the car and got a client but the client is like doubting if I’m working for that company. At the same time maybe I might be lying that I work there and I might scam the person. So that’s disadvantage.

Lizzie: Yeah, there are no ways to verify information. Yes. Okay. And actually a lot of propaganda and untruths are spread on social media.

Veronica: And if you find a naïve person, you find that a person can be scammed today, tomorrow, you are just being scammed.

Lizzie: And what are the advantages of technology?

Martha: Having albinism means that I am very short sighted. So sometimes reading a book can be pretty hard. But I have like 1000 eBooks. And I can put it whatever font size I want. And it just it helps me because I love reading a lot. And reading a physical book can be very straining but if I have it on the phone, they’re all these apps that can produce light, blue light filters, and dissolve these night effects that can just reduce that light and I can just read for hours. So for me it’s really convenient.

Lizzie: Now that is an accessibility, the benefits of technology in terms of accessibility. But I think also, for people who have hearing impairments would therefore have the option for captions in videos, it’s a life changing. And also the text to speech for the blind. I think that also offers a unique advantage.

Maryanne: You can say, it’s trying to accommodate everyone.

Lizzie: That’s true. That’s true. Yes. So, you know, we’ve talked about how technology can offer accommodation to different disability types. So do you think, because for a long time children with disabilities have not had equal access to education, so do you think incorporating technology in our education system would be beneficial?

Maryanne: Yeah. And so if there’s a parent who wants to take their child to school, they don’t need to struggle and go to far places. So ita kuwa much easier in every county there’s a high school, primary and high school where anyone with a disability can access that school. Yes.

(MUSIC) Interlude

Lizzie: You are listening to PAZA Episode 6: Conversations with women and girls with disabilities globally. Today we are exploring digital literacy as an essential tool for economic empowerment. We are taking a short break to highlight our partners who support our work on digital literacy. Remember to follow our #digitaldada campaign on Twitter and Facebook.

Partnership Appreciation – VOICE & ForumCiv

Jacinta: Hi, my name is Jacinto Odima. I’m a digital that less than 1% of women with disability in Kenya have gainful employment or stable income due to lack of competitive skills and information in today’s digital economy. This-Ability Trust thank her partners VOICE and ForumCiv for their support on increasing digital literacy among women with disability.

This message is approved by This-Ability Trust.

(END OF MUSIC)  End of Interlude

Lizzie: Welcome back. You’re listening to PAZA: Conversations with women and girls with disabilities globally. This is Episode 6: Exploring digital literacy as an essential tool for economic empowerment.

Lizzie: So we’ve talked about a number of things, you know, the realities of accessing technology, the affordability, the accessibility, what skill sets are required when you come out of school, what skills the school system needs to incorporate the rule of parenting? What other recommendations do we have, particularly to our government? What do you think government and also private sector because they’re very few companies that are working in this space, we can think of maybe even in on one hand Safaricom, Airtel, that are working to provide access to internet and mobile technology. And also, you mentioned something about whether we have policies that speak into online protection. So, I think it would be useful to also enter that policy advocacy space from a disability standpoint, because this is a service that can change the lives of young people with disabilities. So what would your recommendations going forward?

Maryanne: I think also the community pia and also those elected leaders, pia wanafa kuwa wana strengthen. They are being elected to do something, so they should also be able to strengthen anything that is happening to the community. People ndio grassroots and leaders ndio…ndio what?

Lizzie: Si hao ndio sauti za grassroots.

Maryanne: Yes, so hao pia ndio wana faa wapeleke support. So the community, the leaders they need to support anything happening in the community. If there are people with disabilities, who need wheelchairs, they are there to support them and they are there to speak out their needs.

Lizzie: And what about technology, specifically?

Maryanne: Technology ina weza saidia sana like you see now there is Corona. So if they can at least have an app whereby wana educate tu watu kama vijana mtaani, persons with disability mambo ya hygiene, mambo ya sexuality. This should be online if you want to access more information.

Jacinta: I think even in the radio station, when you use the radio station mostly when people in the rural areas are able to access. Waki chunga mgombe wana weka radio kwa maskio so they can get the information through the radio.

Lizzie: So important information can be spread through the local radios. Okay. And our leaders have a responsibility?

Jacinta: Yes, yes. And then that we should have equal representation of persons with disability both in communities and in other stakeholders. Because you find out we have the information, but you don’t have people to represent us in terms of representation.

Lizzie: And what specifically would we want these people to be representing persons with disabilities to do?

Jacinta: When you have somebody who has the same experience with you, it’s very easy for this person to present you there. So they should air our views as it is and not to put it the way they know it.

Lizzie: Okay, and when it comes to specific issues around technology, what specific things do we want?

Jacinta: Well, they should we should have like adaptive devices which are able to reach all kinds of disability. They say, for example, if we have the visually impaired, do we have the software that they’re able to use to access information digitally in terms of technology? I think the government or even the other policymakers should come up with and adapt a technology which is convenient and accessible to all persons living with disabilities can be affordable.

Veronica: My recommendation is, I think the government should work in hand with these non-governmental organizations like This-Ability, like when they want to put something in place. Like they have said they are giving out 100,000 wheelchairs, they give the money to the MP; the MP does not know who people with disability are in that area, they will eat that money. But when they work hand in hand with the organization’s they will know how to reach out to those with disabilities.

Martha: So organizations should learn how to communicate with people with disability and not just assume that they need a specific thing. Because this person with a disability has had this disability for quite something. They have changed various things, they know what works for them and what doesn’t work for them. And if you just ask them, they’re always open and willing to just share with you their recommendations, or the assistive technology or devices that would work and help them to be more productive in their work environment.

Maryanne: If you want to help somebody, they should come to that specific person. You know kuna venye unaskia kuna someone somewhere who needs help but you haven’t gone there and see how many need help. So if the money is sent yule mtu ako chini hafikiangi but alikuja na andikwa. So the best way is to work hand in hand with the community.

Martha: One last thing to add. So of late I’ve been going through this assistive technology, online learning session, sort of, and we are various organizations that are trying to create assistive devices that are not just physical, but on the online space. Like the one we’re trying to create awareness, but through online methods, and they’re also trying to so one of the organizations is trying to link up sign language interpreters with children who are deaf. And you know, it doesn’t have to be physical, they can do this online. And so organizations should also look into that, do we have to physically create this product or can we create it in such a way that it will reach more people and it will be more convenient for them. So I’m also as innovators and as young people with disabilities that’s something that we should also think about. As you’re growing up as you’re looking at your community, is there something different that you can do or is there something that you can create that will help with the next generation?

Lizzie: So thank you ladies. I don’t know about you, but I had a very enjoyable time. Thank you for maintaining the energy level despite it being lunch time.

(laughter)

Lizzie: We are very thankful. I hope it was useful. Sawa sawa, so if we call you will come back?

Martha, Veronica, Maryanne & Jacinta: Yes.

Lizzie: Thank you.

(MUSIC) Outro

Lizzie: I am Lizzie Kiama and you’ve been listening to PAZA! Conversations with women and girls with disabilities globally. You can also follow This-Ability of Twitter an Instagram @this_ability_ ke and on Facebook @thisability.ke.

Join me next month for another stimulating conversation. In the meantime, follow us on Twitter @pazapodcast to continue the conversation on the experiences of women and girls with disabilities. Until next time, stay safe.

THE END

Paza – Episode 5

PAZA Podcast

GBV during COVID-19: Exploring the realities of gender based violence among women with disabilities

Recorded Thursday June 25, 2020

Full Audio-Text Transcription

(MUSIC) Intro

Click above for Paza Episode 5 Audio file

Hi, I am Lizzie Kiama, welcome to PAZA! Conversations with women with disabilities globally. PAZA! a Swahili word meaning to amplify is an initiative by This-Ability Trust. PAZA! seeks documenting and creating visibility for the experiences of women and girls with disabilities

Join our conversation on Twitter @pazapodcast, you can also follow This-Ability of Twitter an Instagram @this_ability_ ke and on Facebook @thisability.ke.

Now, let’s get into today’s topic of discussion.

Lizzie: So let’s get into it. Thank you, ladies, for joining us on this podcast my name is Lizzie Kiama and I am the Managing Trustee at This-Ability Trust.

So I would like to thank you both very much for joining us this afternoon. And I guess I would ask you to introduce yourselves. Soneni, if you could just give us your name, your organization, if applicable, or the work that you do, very brief, and the country that you’re from, and then we’ll move on to Patience.

Soneni: Thank you so much, Lizzie; for inviting me to this space to come and share what women with disabilities have been experiencing due to COVID-19. I’m from Zimbabwe; I’m a broadcaster by profession,  I’m a speaker, I’m a poet and I’m also an ambassador for two organizations representing persons with disability. An international organization which is Action in Disability and Development and a local organization through the Ministry of Health in Zimbabwe Stop TB Zimbabwe, which basically is its own health matters. And I’m from Bulawayo, which is the second capital city of Zimbabwe.

Lizzie: Great, thank you. Patience?  A short description of who you are, where you’re from, and a little about the work that you do, or organization you represent?

Patience: I am Patience Dickson from Nigeria. I am from organization called Advocacy for Women with Disability Initiative; it is an organization that advances the cause of women and girls with disability, it’s also in national organization. I think just a few things about myself is that I’m the founder of this organization and I work closely with the government, I work closely with other stakeholders as well,  with MDAs like the ministries.

Lizzie: We wanted to also look at the leadership and the positivity that is the lives of women with disabilities. And with that, I think we would like to borrow from your lives and the leadership and innovation and creativity that you have lived life as women with disabilities and their resilience in that.

So I would start with you, Soneni. I understand you are known as being very modest in blowing your own trumpet and in the work that you do. But we all know particularly me on social media, I see you everywhere. So could you talk about some of your accomplishments, tell us a little more about what you’ve been doing and blow your own horn. Tell us about your work and who you are.

Soneni: Thank you, Lizzie. I believe that the most important factor, for someone with a disability, is first identify yourself; who you are while you are on earth. Why are in that particular area that you’re from? And why you carry that surname of your family? Once you understand that calling, then begin to pursue that. From as early as a little girl, I knew that I was going to be the voice of the voiceless because in everything that I did. I was born with a disability, even playing with my sisters, and my friends, I was always the one that is a speaker. If the girls are fighting, they would come to me and I narrate what happened. So I knew from that time that I was born to speak; and not just to speak nonsense, but to speak the truth to defend people to make sure that human right matters are always in the forefront for those that cannot speak for themselves. So, in simplicity, I view myself as a total human being. And particular being a woman, I see myself as a whole woman. And there is no difference between me and my able bodied sister. The only difference that we might have is the physical appearance and the height appearance. And yes, I do agree that the opportunities are totally different, particularly in the area that I chose; which is journalism and broadcasting, you will find out that the environment is not disability friendly. But that has not stopped me from pursuing my dream and my call – to become a speaker, to become a programme producer and to become the presenter of the programme that I want. So understanding who you are, and being faithful to the call, and also having some kind of faith and belief in yourself, why you’re here on Earth. That gives you the confidence to live another day, even if the world is against you. But you will know that you’re born for a purpose. And also having a family support; having families that believe in you, having colleagues that believe in you. Surround yourself with positive people all the time and link together and run for the common cause. It’s not easy being a disabled person, and worse being a woman, because you always on the secondary matter, whenever opportunities are there, you’re the last person that they think of. But that shouldn’t stop anyone from doing that. So, in a nutshell, I believe that I’m a game changer. I believe in myself and what I desire, and I believe it’s God’s call for my for myself, I run with it, and I know that is for the good and the cause for my country, my community and the world.

Lizzie: Wow. Thank you, Soneni. Patience, we know each other, we go way back in terms of our advocacy, but I think it would serve the listeners well, to get to know the powerhouse behind Patience Dickson. So please, could you maybe share the inspiration behind the initiative that you began the Advocacy for Women with Disabilities Initiative? What was the inspiration behind that?

Patience: Thank you so much, Lizzie. Like you rightly said, we’ve been working together for some time. The initiative I think is just built on experience of a woman with disability. It actually started from the experience of a girl child with disability, way back when I was very young. As a child, I didn’t have many opportunities; I just had few opportunities. I can’t say I wasn’t allowed to go to school, but I did not go to school on time. And I’m sure many of us know why – because disability in our own culture, especially in Nigeria, at that time when I was growing up, a child with disability was not actually seen as a child; she was seen as a different kind of child. And so as a different kind of child, that child is not allowed to also aspire to be like other children, in terms of education now. But I was just lucky, destiny played a good one on me and I was just lucky to have been found by someone who actually said nice things about why I should I should be educated and that was the power behind my life and it’s really pushed me forward. When I was registered in school, it was one the happiest moments of my life. And it brought me out to where I am today. That is why one of my whole philosophy is if you investing in a girl child with disability it is not a waste. It’s also definitely builds more on the women or that woman when she’s mature. Investing in this child, we definitely build a woman with disability.

And so that zeal, that passion in me, I said, okay, why don’t I gather around and look for women like myself – strong, educated women with disability like myself. And we came together and we started the initiative for women and girls with disability. And I tell you, it has been awesome because many of us have been able to work on ourselves. You have been able to work on our self-esteem and we have been able to build so many women especially those of us in the community, who are not educated, who does not even have an income, who have one issue or the other. So, the initiative is now becoming a powerhouse for women and girls with disability and so other people with disability who care to join us. So that is the inspiration behind my own life and also around the initiative, it actually based on investing in the education of the girl child with disability.

Lizzie: Wonderful, thank you, Patience. And thank you both, Soneni and Patience, I’m sure hearing about your personal experiences, your personal journeys, it’s going to be useful to a lot of our listeners. And useful in working towards shifting the medical and charity narrative that is prevalent when it comes to women and girls with disabilities.

Now, this particular conversation is supposed to, is looking to highlight the situation of the COVID-19 pandemic. And I’m curious about your, the context in your particular in your respective countries. In Kenya, for example, on the 1st of April, our Chief Justice Honourable Moraga released the statement towards the fact that there has been a significant spike in sexual offences in many parts of the country during this period of the pandemic, and these offences constitute 35.8% of criminal matters being reported during this period. So I’m just curious, in Nigeria, in Zimbabwe, has there been an increase in Sexual and Gender Based Violence.  

Soneni: We have experienced a different type of Gender Based Violence during the COVID-19 for women with disabilities. We know that women with disabilities are very vulnerable to abuse, sexual abuse, and reporting is a great challenge. So you will never come up with statistics of women that had been abused, raped or being beaten up by their partners or family members or anything like that. But they tend to keep quiet more so because the offenders are breadwinners, people that they stay with or people that have confidence in. So what we have realized that in the city that I’m coming from we had a water crisis. This water crisis is where we have water cuts that would go for hours and later on, it would come in the midnight, depending on what area you’re staying in. So what we have noticed is that there are some women that depend on help from either their neighbours or their family members. And you will find out that there’s a there’s a different type of abuse, whereby women are saying they’re not able to go and release themselves in the toilet because how do you flush your toilet when you don’t have water? And you depend on someone? If the boucers, we call them the boucers, if the boucers come and it’s at midnight and you can’t will yourself to fetch water. So what happens, you have to depend on someone to bring that water for you.

Lizzie: Thank you, Soneni. I think in Kenya as well, we can resonate with some of the things that you mentioning. We keep hearing advice from the government, for example, you know, talking about sanitizing, talking about washing your hands. And the reality is, as you mentioned, access to clean water is not a reality for the majority and particularly persons with disabilities and women with disabilities who might be living in informal settlements, you know, it’s not a case where you turn on your taps and there’s water. And here you’re talking about rationing, but there are the informal settlements in Kenya where people have to buy water. So your income sources have been cut short, and then you’re supposed to choose between spending money for water or for food. So it’s a reality that the majority that live below the poverty line have to deal with on a day to day basis. So I totally hear you. I hear you there.

Patience: In Nigeria right now we are having issues and issues of rape and killings. Violence, domestic violence is taking a different tone; even families are part of it. You can agree with me that people with disability are very closely connected to family members, connected to neighbours, connected to friends, connected to colleagues, connected to people around them. And are the people who are always involved with violence and sometimes people with disability are not even able to flee from this violence because of our nature as women with disability. And even girls are even worse, because they are more vulnerable because they are girls and they have a disability, so they are more vulnerable.

Lizzie: But I’m just wondering, in your various contexts, what has been the reception of women with disabilities that take forward cases of violations, particularly sexual violations? Has there been quick action on the part of the police, for example? Do they have a culture of believing the witnesses or is it like Kenya when depending on your disability, then there is an extent to which the police can believe you and, they might need other witnesses to come forth.

Patience: In Nigeria we have the VAP Act, which is Violence Against Persons (Prohibition) Act. I think that is what many states are using even though in many states that have not domesticated this law. But that working for us even though it’s not really, really, inclusive of women with disability is still vague, and I see it in the general sense of all women and girls. So but that is enforced and that is what we are using. And then we also have the Discrimination Against Persons with Disability Prohibition Act that was just signed into law. And that is also another instrument that we are using in Nigeria. We just started using it both, we still have a challenge because it has not been domesticated. But by and large, like you have said, we still have issues around rape, violence, around testimony from women from girls or women with disability because like you rightly said in Kenya; and that is how it is in Nigeria. Because law enforcement agency actually do not believe the story shared by women and girls with disability because it’s based on perception and mindset that their testimony will not be good enough. And so just the mindset that they are girls with disability who will violate them? Who will rape them? There are better girls, they are beautiful girls around so who we go and rape a girl with disability? Who we go on raping a woman with disability? Who will take a woman with disability by force?

Soneni: What I believe we need to do as women with disabilities is to come forth and change the description of what is Gender Based Violence is. Because the world thinks that Gender Based Violence is beating someone blue and red. They think of able-bodied women only, and men as well being abused. So we need to come to a table and explain and define that when we say women with disabilities are experiencing Gender Based Violence what do we mean? Because every disability has one encounter of a different type of Gender Based Violence. And people need to realize that we have so many women that have been abused, and their cases haven’t been brought to the forum because no one is going to believe them.

In my country, Zimbabwe, yes, we’ve had some cases where people, either there’s a strong family member who believes that this girl was raped, so they take it up to the right to the top. But then what about those girls that do not have the backup system? So we need to align our laws, as activists as well, we need to start speaking out; what do we mean when we say Gender Based Violence?

We have issue with transport, I don’t know if it’s the same thing with other countries. So someone that is only a wheelchair, when she’s being lifted onto the bus, by a stranger or conductor, the manner that the person is holding the woman with disability has physical contact, and because you are helping I think I can’t speak up. So I have to keep quiet. But you do not have to hold my bums when you’re lifting me into the bus. You do not have to hold me close to you. This is my body and I have every right to protect my body. So there’s a very, very thin line between a normal way of carrying someone and abusing someone while you are helping them.

Patience: Yeah, I just also want to say that even abuse can also happen in the school system, especially in the institution where you have people who are intellectually disabled.

There are some special schools, we have special schools in Nigeria right now, and especially for those who have psychosocial disability. And a lot of abuse has been going on in those institutions. There is a School for the Blind in Abuja, where I resided in a few months ago, we found out that the girls being transported from home to the school were being abused in the bus by the bus driver; it has been going on for some time. So at a particular time, the girls raised an alarm, and of course, there was denial and all that. And then it was I found out that this man is actually related to the headmistress of the school. And that she tried to cover it all up. But when we find out, we took it upon ourselves to report the situation. And it was reported to the Human Rights Commission and I think this case is still ongoing right now. So this abuse can happen anywhere, like Soneni said, anywhere we have people not because they are people with disability, but people. It can happen anywhere but for women and girls with disabilities it is worse because they look at us like helpless people. And so it is worse, definitely. So we also need to, like she said, we also need to look at the different categories of disability.

Soneni: What I wanted to add, I don’t know if it happens in your culture, in our culture, my sister’s husband is automatically pronounced as my husband.

Lizzie: Oh?

Patience: Okay.

Soneni:  Yes. So what happens you, you have hearing impaired girls, that when they’re living with their sisters, the husband thinks that he’s got a right into that girl’s life. And because that child is not empowered, then you find out there’s a little physical touch. He is the person that will rape that girl and that girl will not say anything because it’s her sister’s husband, she is staying with the sister and because she also thinks that it is right, because it’s my sister’s husband. So we also need to break the cultural belief. How do we define culture? And how do we define abuse? We have girls who become pregnant and she won’t say who made her pregnant. We have so many single mothers that are hearing impaired, we have so many single mothers that are disabled, but it’s because of those hidden abuses, Gender Based Violence that takes place, they are not defined and we don’t explain it to the world to say this needs to come to a stop.

Lizzie: Culture definitely has a role to play in creating an environment where this abuse can thrive and fester in our communities.

(MUSIC) Interlude

Lizzie: Support for our work on the rights of women and girls with disabilities comes from both profit and non-profit organizations, including private well-wishers.  Next, we have an appreciation statement for one our donors. 

Partnership Donation Appreciation – UNFPA

This-Ability Trust thanks United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), in conjunction with the Kenya Red Cross, for their Humanitarian Covid-19 Support of 200 dignity kits.

The Covid-19 pandemic has made life a lot harder for women with disabilities; access to basic essentials such as food, water, and generation of income is near impossible for them during this period. These kits will alleviate some of the challenges women and girls with disabilities are experiencing during this pandemic. The dignity kits will reach 200 adolescent girls in 8 counties across Kenya.

Thank you, UNFPA for your generous donation and for supporting women and girls with disabilities during Covid-19.

This message is approved by This-Ability Trust.

(END OF MUSIC)  End of Interlude

Lizzie: Welcome back. You are listening to PAZA! Conversations with women and girls with disabilities globally. Remember to follow us on Twitter @pazapodcast.

Lizzie: Gender Based Violence manifests itself in different forms and affects us, as you rightly said, both you Soneni and Patience, it manifests in different ways for women with disabilities. The specific disability and the interaction with that violence is also another unique experience.

Lizzie: Our work focuses on amplifying the realities of women with disabilities, let’s hear from Regina from Uasin Gishu County describing her personal experience with physical violence.

Regina’s recording – from Uasin Gishu

When I was in a relationship, my first relationship, the number of abuses and it was worse for me because, one, I am a woman with disability. So I went through physical abuse and it was hard because I didn’t get any support.  When I would just explain people saw it was right for it to be done to me because I am a woman with disability and being in the relationship it was like sympathy for me to be in that relationship, so whatever this man was doing to me people did not take it seriously. They didn’t even mind. It was like it was right thing being done to me, being abused. And then I am a woman, a woman married to a Kalenjin man, so it’s his right to abuse you, beat you properly, beat physical. So a number of times he would beat me up and it was ok to everybody. Nobody would help me. In fact I didn’t report to the Police Station because for me I felt it was right in some way. So I went through a lot for more than one year.

Soneni: Yeah, Regina tells the true story of an African disabled woman that is involved in a relationship and yet is abuse in that relationship, and nobody will believe you. But also trying to be a woman in the community making it at the same time, you have this abuse within your own, someone that says they love you, but then they go on to abuse you. I believe that disabled African women experience similar abuses, or they might be a bit different. The narration is exactly of the stories that I’ve heard for my country, Zimbabwe, where women go into marriages and they’re abused and they keep quiet. But until there’s that one angel that comes in, empowers that woman, and she gets out of that marriage. So it’s a true voice of reflection of the Gender Based Violence among women with disabilities as a whole.

Patience: There’s one thing that I always see especially with women who go through this kind of pain and torture that it’s not easy to break out. So let us come together in this campaign of breaking the silence. If we don’t break the silence, we won’t get perpetrators to book us, even if this perpetrator is our partner. Abuse is abuse. It causes a lot of pain and trauma on the victim, which is mostly the woman, it could also be the man; the victim could also be the man. Breaking the silence is key. We keep preaching that in our advocacy drives, for us to break this and make a difference we must come up with something tangible in our countries, in our communities we need to empower our women, empower our girls, so that when such things happen you think of the next step – and that is breaking the silence.

Lizzie: Just quickly, do you do you have any suggestions for a woman with a disability who finds herself in a situation like Regina’s? What would be the best way forward? What would be the course of action? What would be advice that you would give this woman who is being physically violated by their partner?

Soneni: My encouragement is get out of that relationship. Find someone that you can talk to. And these days we have the internet, where you can confide, there are so many organizations of persons with disabilities in each country that you can go for help. You can even go to the police, but don’t stay in that relationship, it is not worth it. Love is not like that, even if it’s a family member that is abusing you. Love does not abuse. My encouragement is find strength within you, speak for yourself. And once you break that silence, the entire world is going to believe you and they’re going to support you.

Patience: And the only advice I have for Regina is for her to be happy. She needs to do the needful and the needful is, as Soneni said, get out of that of that relationship because remember when you are in a marriage that you are not happy, or when you are in a partnership that is not making happy, you are always sad and you always been abused. I don’t think it is fair for you to be there. I wouldn’t be there. I don’t know if it’s me. I wouldn’t be there. I will take a hike and leave immediately. Even there are even some religious bodies now that are against violence, they will preach it in the church to say if you are in a home where they are violating against you just leave, why? What are you doing there? There is nothing, there’s nothing there for you. It doesn’t hurt, it’s not supposed to hurt you. So be happy. Just go away and make yourself happy in any way that you can, so that you don’t experience such nonsense anymore. That is not why you are here on Earth. You are here for a purpose, and definitely hurting you is not part of that purpose. That is just my thinking.

That is why we need to be talking to people. Once you are talking to people, you are building this healing, inner strength, we are building the healing inner strength and also building support around you, around your family, around your friends who can help you where you are no longer there. So it is better to leave than to lose yourself or to lose your life. That’s the way I see it.

Lizzie: No, that’s true. I agree. I totally agree. I’m agreeing with everything you’re saying Patience. I’ve seen situations of perpetrators, you know, being very systematic in how they violate you. So it starts you know, probably with emotional violence that is, small, small things. So you think, oh, he’s not beating me physically so this is okay.

Soneni: If I’m in a relationship, and I’m your friend, I must openly talk about my relationship with my person, so that you can begin to sense if there’s something wrong in my relationship. But if we have secret relationship, and you don’t openly talk about your relationship, and you’re always covering for your partner, or you’re never out as couples or as partners, but you’re always protect, you’re always protected – there’s a danger in that, that’s why people discover things very late. It’s because they did they don’t have anyone that they’re accountable to.

So once you enter in a relationship, treat it normal. Talk about your relationship. Ask for advice from those that have been in a longer term relationship. Check yourself out, check the other person, if he’s got certain habits that you’re not sure of that has happened to you, if let’s say you’re in a wheelchair, he goes out he leaves you, check if that is normal or abnormal. Most of these things happen because people are not aware that it is wrong. They think it is right, he is doing me a favour, he loves me, that he’s protecting me, he’s saying I mustn’t go out with him, because people laugh at us when they see us when they see us together, so he’s protecting me. In the meantime, it’s just adding and adding and adding, he doesn’t give me money in the public because he doesn’t want people to talk about it. No. So let your relationship have an accountability.

 (MUSIC) Interlude

Lizzie: Support for our work on the rights of women and girls with disabilities comes from both profit and non-profit organizations, including private well-wishers.  Next, we have an appreciation statement for one our donors. 

Partnership Donation Appreciation – Kotex

This-Ability Trust thanks Kotex, in conjunction with Verde Group, for their Humanitarian Covid-19 Support in the donation of 20 boxes of sanitary towels for women and girls with disabilities. 

Women and girls with disabilities face challenges in accessing Sexual & Reproductive Health and this includes access to hygienic menstrual products. The sanitary products will reach 300 women and girls in 8 counties across Kenya.

Thank you, Kotex for your generous donation and for supporting girls and women with disabilities during Covid-19.

This message is approved by This-Ability Trust.

Lizzie: Welcome back. You are listening to PAZA! Conversations on women and girls with disabilities globally. Remember to follow us on Twitter @pazapodcast.

(END OF MUSIC) End of Interlude

Lizzie: Our work focuses on amplifying the realities of women with disabilities, let’s hear from Wanja from Embu County describing her personal experience with sexual violence.

Wanja’s recording – Embu

For me, I am epileptic. The first thing, my extended family, especially my cousins, started calling me a crazy woman, that I am bewitched. They would call the Wakorinos (a religious sect), they (the Wakorinos) would fill water in a tank and throw me in there claiming they are removing demons from inside me. Sometimes they would cook dog meat and force me to eat. My legs are usually in pain. Men rape me. And I have nobody to turn to. If I report to the chief, they all claim that I am a mad woman. At home I have nobody to trust, being viewed as a burden because for people with epilepsy we depend on daily medication. And if, for example, someone rapes me when unconscious after an epileptic seizure, I don’t know what was done to me, or any awareness of the act, until after some months when I noticed that I have missed my periods, and I found out I am four pregnant, like in the case of my first my born. I don’t even know where he came from or who his father is. I remember I was in Kerugoya, had lunch somewhere, I had a seizure, I don’t remember what happened next.

Lizzie: Guys, any reflections? Do you experience the same? Do women with disabilities with different kinds of conditions, do they experience the same kind of violations in your countries?

Soneni: Another narrative that is very close to the experiences of people with intellectual abilities go through. I can recall there’s one case that I know, I had a conversation with a woman with a mental condition, she lives in a village. She’s been raped by a local person and he still walks around. She was narrating that every time that she sees this man, she’s got so much fear that she thinks that he’s going to rape her again. Justice was not served for that girl because of a mental condition where she cannot testify because of a condition. So these stories are there, they are so real. And that’s why I keep saying if we have policies that protect our women, so that when they do report these cases it’s not going to be a matter of do I believe her, but it’s a matter of what the law says. So we really need to make sure that our law enforcement is very disability friendly for women with disabilities.

Patience: So apart from what Soneni said on policy, we also need to engage families to empower them, so that they can also we can also build a kind of trust in them. Then can they can be engaged. Some of us who are into this work where organizations or persons with disability or human rights advocates, I mean, people that have passion about this work can also lead so by the time we now have this kind of conversation around the families and how to engage them to build trust around them, to also make them know that this kind of thing doesn’t just happen. We don’t want it to happen in our system, in our community. So the family plays a very big role in the lives of women and girls with disability, especially when it comes to psychosocial disability. So we need to engage some of these families, to build trust in them. And, of course, I also actually believe in the fact that policies need to be a disability friendly because, of course, that is the key to the whole episode and the whole idea.

Lizzie: So from both of you, I hear that, you know, the experiences or the violations of women with disabilities are not unique to, for example, Kenya alone. These are things we can collect some of the same cases of violations in Zimbabwe, and also in Nigeria. So it’s not a unique experience to Kenya. And also, I have heard that, you know, there are several action steps that we can, we can begin to incorporate in our work to address some of these violations from advocating for policies but also to working with the communities and particularly the families and caregivers of individuals with disabilities. But I wanted to find out, what other advocacy strategies do you have in your respective countries? What has worked particularly in terms of advancing the rights of persons with disabilities? And what can we borrow from one another?

Patience: It took us about 20 years for the Discrimination Against Persons with Disability Prohibition Bill to be signed into law by this present administration. It kept jumping from one administration to the other until we finally got was we have been advocating for. And that is because people in the organizations of people with disability did not relent. So engaging people and organizations of persons with disability is key. That is what we are also talking about in this COVID-19, that is why during the lockdown period it didn’t go over well with many persons with disabilities because people with disability and the organizations were not really on board, on the table of discussions when preventive measures came out. In fact, people with disability we actually cut off. It was when we started to advocate and say, no, you cannot, you cannot cut off a community of persons with disability. Over 25 million people with disability, as estimated in Nigeria, can never be cut off just like that. And at the end of the day, the government started to bring us on board again. We now have preventive measures in sign language format, in some accessible formats, and things like that. So we are now being a part of the discussions and also prevention. I am not saying that we are there yet, but what I’m saying is that engaging the organizations of persons with disability is working for us in Nigeria.

Soneni: We’ve also been doing similar actions in Zimbabwe, like what Patience is saying, but we are running with PRPD, I don’t know if you’re familiar with that one, Partnership on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, where we are empowering women and girls with disabilities to identify who they are in their communities and empower them through workshops, empower them through training on how to speak with members of parliament to express their views. Because they voted for members of parliament so they should, members of parliament should take issues concerning persons with disabilities to Parliament, to try and solve some of the issues that are coming from the communities; such as rape, such as lack of food, such as lack of employment. I’m working with different organization, because of my background in what I do, I affiliate myself with so many organizations that promote disability rights movement, empowering the girl child on how to be confident, to speak for herself and also include families and educate families on the importance of persons with disabilities; that they shouldn’t keep them at home. But rather, they should treat them like any other children. If they have other siblings give them opportunities. If there’s education, you’re educating your children, don’t leave out a person with a disability but include them in highlighting issues of disability within a home community and also the country. So that is where we are in Zimbabwe.

Lizzie: I have truly, truly enjoyed this conversation. So, in parting, any last words that each of you has?

Soneni: I would like to say, remember disability issues or human rights issues, and every woman has a right to live. Every woman has a right to a voice, and every girl child has a right to education. And every girl child has a right to live a life, even with a disability. And during this COVID-19 let’s all remember, protect yourself to protect others. And coming from Zimbabwe, I say thank you Siyabonga, Tinotenda.

Patience: Thank you, Lizzie for inviting me, I really enjoyed myself. And I just want to end this by saying that the goal is not about making women with disabilities stronger, because they are already strong. But the goal is all about changing the mindsets and perceptions of people. So that they know that persons or women with disability are indeed women first before the disability; and that is what we are trying to, to bring on board change and make a difference.

Lizzie: Thank you both. This would not have been as vibrant as it was without your voices. Thank you for agreeing to be part of this and contributing all your energies towards this, I’m truly appreciative. I hope you would join us again. And I hope we can continue the conversation on social media. And if you have an idea for another conversation that we could all have, please reach out.

 (MUSIC) Interlude

GBV Resources:  Toll Free Helpline 0800 720553 and 0800 730999

If you or anyone you know is experiencing or has experienced any form of Gender Based Violence please toll free number 0800 720553 managed by the Coalition on Violence Against Women (COVAW) or toll free number 0800 730999 managed by the Directorate of Community Policing, Gender and Child Protection to seek immediate assistance.

Again, if you or anyone you know in your community is experiencing or has experienced any form of Gender Based Violence please call 0800 720553 or 0800 730999.

Stay Safe out there.

This message is approved by This-Ability Trust.

(MUSIC) Outro

Lizzie: I am Lizzie Kiama and you’ve been listening to PAZA! Conversations with women and girls with disabilities globally. You can also follow This-Ability of Twitter an Instagram @this_ability_ ke and on Facebook @thisability.ke.

Join me next month for another stimulating conversation. In the meantime, follow us on Twitter @pazapodcast to continue the conversation on the experiences of women and girls with disabilities. Until next time, stay safe.

THE END

Paza-Episode 1

Paza Podcast

Disability and Covid-19: Documenting the experiences of women with disabilities during the global pandemic.

Recorded on March 19th, 2020

Full Audio-Text Transcription

(Music) Intro:

Hello everybody! Thank you so much for joining our conversations on Paza! Paza, a Swahili word meaning to amplify, is an initiative by This Ability Trust. Paza seeks to document and create visibility for the experiences of women with disabilities globally.

We look forward to hearing from you, so remember to share your support and feedback on our social media platforms. To continue this conversation, please follow our Twitter page @pazapodcast

For more content on This Ability’s work and projects, please follow This Ability on Twitter and Instagram @this_ability_ke and on Facebook @thisability.ke

Now let’s get into todays topic of discussion

Lizzie: So thank you so much everybody for joining. I would just like with a round of introductions I’ll start with you Ash.

Ash: This is Aiswarya Rao. I’m a pediatrician and I’m a woman with the locomotive disability. I’m calling from Chennai, that is in South India. So that’s about me, I run a shelter for women with disability in Chennai. We have about at any point of time 60 women with all kinds of disabilities staying in the shelter with us. And what we are looking for, primarily, through the shelter is employability of women of different capacities better employment opportunities. So that’s about me.

Lizzie: Great. Thank you so much Ash. And Sophie.

Sophie: Hi everybody. I’m Sophie Morgan. I’m from the UK. I’m a disability advocate, and also an activist campaigner. I work mostly in the media myself, advocating for better representation for disabled people but also work in retail and travel to help improve representation. They’re for disabled people too. So yeah, I’m based in London.

Lizzie: Thank you very much, everybody. And for those who do not know me, my name is Lizzie Kiama and I am the Managing Trustee of This Ability Trust. I founded This Ability in 2012, and our focus has always been advancing the rights of women with disability. This whole Corona virus thing got us thinking in terms of how communities a woman with disabilities are responding, whether this information is reaching them whether they have the necessary skills support and resources to navigate through this pandemic. But also on the flip side, we were thinking about, you know, the various recommendations that are being given in terms of trying to not get infected, the social distancing the isolation, and how, you know, women who disabilities have had to build these skills over the years because of a very inaccessible environment.

So, can we just get right into it because we would love to know, what is Corona virus from a medical stand point.

Ash: So, Corona virus, there’s just too much of information overload about the virus everywhere. As as a lot of us have Reading and hearing about it. But the simple facts of the corona virus is this. The Corona virus is a respiratory virus. It has always existed. But what we are dealing with right now is the novel strain of the corona virus. And it is an exceptionally, very infective infection. It started in China. It’s a it’s a zoonotic infection, which means the virus existed when wild animals probably bad and because of the mutation that rendered it very, very effective. It jumped from the bat into the human population, and from then on, it has been increasingly spreading from one person to another at an alarming rate. The common symptoms are very, very common just like any other flu, like fever, upper respiratory, sneezing, cough, and but lung infection. But the one thing that distinguishes the normal coronavirus or the disease The Covid-19 as it’s called, is that there is a mortality rate of one person, at least one person, but the mortality rate will differ depending on which healthcare setting you are in. A facility in Canada will be very different from a rural facility in India for example, but at this point from whatever data that health authorities have been able to combine, they say that rate of 1% which is very high in a highly populous country like India or some of the countries in Africa, I would assume. So, this is it and it is spreading, it is spreading alarmingly more than 166 countries. From this in December, there was only one. The first case was reported first week of December in China. But today, all 166 countries across the world have reported in some countries more than other countries. So, it is a as we speak, it’s a global pandemic and it is spending more and more. I think these are the basic facts.

Lizzie: Thank you. Thank you Ash, could you maybe speak about those students in India?

Ash: Yes, we are behind the global epidemic. So, as you know epidemics have four phases one is people who came into from the epicenter people in either China or the very high prevalence countries like France or Italy. So, that is that is the first phase of deployment and the second phase of the epidemic is contacts their family members or anybody that those people who actually tested positive for coronavirus when or who have come into contact with them. So, right now India is only at phase two. We are only seeing new infections. Like all of India, we have 1.3 billion population, but, as of today, the country has notified only around 160 cases. So it’s very, very early. But in the next week or even the next two weeks we expect, like what the health authorities, the foremost hydrologist in India, dr. john, he said that it’s going to be an avalanche of cases because of overcrowding, poverty, and lack of access to health care, we are going to have a huge problem on our hands. Right now. Most of the Indian population has heard about it, we’ll be getting a lot of information. But still we are in a state of denial. We’re thinking, you know, there’s just too much. They’re making a big deal out of it. Because we have, we haven’t really experienced the, the tragic part of the epidemic so far amongst us. So this is the India’s and India is again a huge country, hugely diverse population. We speak numerous languages very, very different. Cultural, many cultures in one country. So we have 36 states, each state is like a country is like a European country or even a small African country. So this diverse population, and every state has its own way of dealing with this epidemic. We’re not seeing the country’s apex body come up, put everyone on board, increase testing, and awareness. See, for example, last week, we had this information that went out and about, you know, coughing and keeping a safe distance, the general precautions, but that was all issued in one language in the only about 25 to 30% of the country speak the language, most of India does not speak Hindi. All our telephones whenever we call we had this call tune and this Hindi message, the most people didn’t understand. So there’s, it’s like, extremely poor coordinated effort by the government and we really don’t know what is going to happen. We are watching. So every state has its own separate response. Some states are responding better. My state is the southern state of Tamil Nadu, we can’t say is very poor, but we are also not the best we should do more. So this is India story and, it is frightening, actually.

Lizzie: And what about the women in the shelter that you you coordinate, you know, what’s the experience?

Ash: Yes, the shelter. It’s very funny, but the women in the shelter are all because we spoke to them about it. And they’re all the women with disabilities are always on cell phones and they’re accessing information. So they are, they’re all aware of this information. We have all the children there. They are the college ones. They are not going out. They’re staying in the shelter and we are advising the same, you know, hand sanitization and staying at least three feet apart. So, general precautions as of now no symptoms, luckily. So we’re just waiting, nothing more than that. Also, travel, a lot of the travel is suspended. So a lot of the women who want to go back home, haven’t gone back home. They’re just staying at the shelter. So we will wait and see what will happen. We have not been provided masks because masks are in very high demand. Also, it’s not necessary yet because none of them are having any symptoms. So, but even there is a shortage of hand sanitizer. We as of now we have some stock but we rely on water and soap and stuff like that. So I think we are somewhat prepared. We should be more prepared, but we will. You know, we will get to that level of preparedness. When the when we when we hit that bridge.

Lizzie: So in terms of preparedness, you’re left to your own resources. Is the government supporting you in any way? Absolutely.

Ash: No, no, they’re sending us information, do this clean this and, you know, provide mass and do this do this, but they’re not doing anything they just policing us. The government itself is pretty much confused. There’s no one person calling the shots there. So no, we are not having that. We’re not having any support from the government authorities yet.

Lizzie: Okay, interesting. Thank you for that. Thank you for that brief explanation of what’s going on in India. Sophie, Hi, would you like to share what’s what’s going on in the UK. And also, you know, if you’ve come across any innovative solutions that are connected Persons with Disabilities with this critical information and access to services.

Sophie: It’s got quite bad over here, as you guys might have seen in the news and the UK now is I don’t know how many cases that we’ve got. But basically London just gone into lockdown. And there’s a lot of procedures and structures coming into play to that stop people from coming in contact with each other. So government guidance has been very much that we need to socially distance ourselves from each other. And that’s meaning a lot of people are working from home. What we have seen, unfortunately, is that the government hasn’t put yet an outright ban on going into some of the public spaces. So for example, pubs and restaurants have been advised not where we’ve been advised not to go to them, but many people still are. And so we’re expecting there to be a full lockdown kind of in the same way that Italy has seen and it’s population locked down and kept at home, we were expecting that kind of same measures to start to happening here. But at the moment, there’s a lot of responsibility being put on the population themselves. And what that does is leave, because a lot of the responsibility is being put on the community that the population itself, to self regulate how to manage this, what we’re seeing is that people are going well, “It’s not really my problem. I’m not vulnerable, I don’t have a disability, this is for people in the communities that you know, it’s not me, it means that is putting that particular community a huge risk”. So a lot of disabled people are coming out trying to educate people as to how you know, vulnerable they feel and how important it is that we all look after each other at this time. And that being said, it’s also been really interesting to see how the community here, the disabled community here have responded with advice and guidance on how to best manage being at home and spending time at home and, and actually, you know, we disabled people, disabled women have a lot of experience of being isolated or being at home of not being able to get to work or having to prioritize their health over everything else. So as our communities are starting to see and experience the same thing, we are able to say look, we’ve been here before we can we can help you and don’t look to us as just vulnerable and you know, the one that needs to be looked after we in turn who look after you at this point, mentally, we can give you tips on how best to you know, structure your day and manage your well being and things so it’s been a really interesting few days and weeks, and of course, it’s still unfolding and changes are happening rapidly every day we’re getting different government advice.

So a lot going on and but to answer your other question about how we’re sharing information. And really what’s being put out there for disabled people. What I have noticed is we are leaning on each other. And we are taking information that is being put out by the government. And we are trying very much to decipher what is relevant to us. As I said before, unfortunately, because the government has not issued more hard guideline guidelines yet, a lot of the able bodied community is kind of saying, right? Well, that’s their problem. And that’s, that’s leaving us a little bit vulnerable, but we know how to look after each of ourselves. So we’re leaning on each other for advice and help and a lot of sort of community support networks cropping up so people can help those with disabilities. We’re seeing really amazing measures such as, you know, pieces of paper that are being distributed on social media that you could print off with information on how to educate people around you. If you have a compromised immune system and you don’t want to have someone come to your home that could infect you, you know, posters that you can put onto your walls, with information on how to educate them as to not infect you. So, you know, information and, and support is really rapidly spreading through social media, which is really exciting to see and encouraging because it can feel very isolating right now.

Lizzie: That’s true. But I love the fact that, we’re also able to shift that narrative from, the charity and the vulnerability that mainstream societies used to placing people with disabilities and now we’re shifting, and saying, that there are actually best practices that, society can borrow from the disability community

Sophie: I find it really interesting, you know, I don’t know about you, but I’ve watched you know, a number of celebrities around the world that I follow on social media, and they’re all “Day three or four, and oh, my gosh, I can’t handle it. melt down, you know, what am I going to do? And I’m like, hey, I’ve done this yet. You know, it’s kind of funny, we’re all sort of going, come on, you know, man up here? It’s really interesting. So, actually, whilst you know we’re watching the world kind of, of course, there’s very justified to be worried about what’s happening right now if that fear is justified completely, but the coping with the working from home, it’s really interesting to watch. Another thing and unexpected consequence that is yet to play out and I’m interested to see is how the world is having to adapt to people working from home and adapt to situations which disabled people have been in for a long time. Is that going to change the way that businesses actually encounter an organization’s look after us? Are they going to see now that have that now that they’ve seen all their employees to work from home and manage themselves from a different working environment? Does that mean that we’re going to see different changes when all this comes to an end? That will mean that disabled people can fit into the workplace a lot more effectively? I don’t know. It’s exciting, but I think there could be silver linings. Let me just say, I do see it’s interesting because I mean, I’ve had number of people reach out to me and say, you don’t realize I lost my job last year because I had to work from home because of illness and disability. And now all my colleagues are working from home. you know, the consequences to this are really quite interesting. So, yeah, we’ll see what happens.

Lizzie: I’m yeah, I’m also seeing the fact that you know, there might be a silver lining to all this and probably this pandemic will bring us to ground zero and, allow us to build systems that are truly inclusive for everyone and that work for everyone

Sophie: Absolutely and for once, we might see that this vulnerability that we all have as human beings, but many take for granted. We can see that the disabled who live with this can think in a very different way. I mean, it really could bring to the to the forefront a different perspective, that vulnerability is strength. That opportunity is found in adversity and disabled people are so resilient. And so adaptive when it comes to having to live in a world that doesn’t suit their needs, what can we teach the wider world about that?

One thing I was interested in hearing you talk about as just then is disabled women, you were saying a lot of people are on their phones. And I don’t know about you guys, but I’m on my phone right now. All the time. I mean, everyone’s saying it’s not healthy to spend a huge amount of time on social media, but that’s just really hard to do to not be on it all the time. And I wanted to know if any of you have found a really good hashtag or one place the way we can disseminate information through. At the moment with you know that I haven’t seen that here in the UK. It’s more we’re sharing accounts or people that might have a good voice or if you have charities or DPOs that know a little bit more, we can signpost to that. But have you seen anything a bit more disability focused?

Ash: To answer Sophie’s question on, you know, whether there’s anything specifically for information on disability and the epidemic right now. A bunch of us we call ourselves the Disability Rights Alliance in India, activists from all over India it’s a very loose social group, Social Media Group. So we put out a website on WordPress, it’s a very small blog, we call it the AIDER or Addressing and Including Diversity in Emergency Response, just a one page website but it contains all the links from government sources WHO, CDC etc. With some information very little, we just wanted to put everything in one place. So we will be adding to this, so this is an effort from the disability community for you know, providing information for someone with a disability and coping with the current situation.

Sophie: That’s really thanks for like, I’d love to share that here in the UK as well. And I of course after this, we can all connect and share what we’ve got resource wise I just feel there should be a global coming together of all of us like we are here now doing that we should bring in as many partners we are all connected to, because I do feel that the disabled community whilst we are being talked about as being the most vulnerable, especially here in the UK. That’s the conversation at the moment is that this virus is particularly threatening to that group of people. Everyone’s talking about disabled people and vulnerable people. It’s very important that the information gets to those particular people and that those people speak for themselves about what’s going on and what they need to learn. So yeah, and

Ash: Like you all mentioned, I did a search on Twitter, disability and the current situation, and the only thing that it threw for me was this work from home. You know, lots of people are talking about how people with disability have always propagated working from home and how it is so doable. So this is the only context in which disability is appearing on Twitter feeds here in India.

Maria Rosa: I want to add just something little because what I think is that we also need to be specific about how women with disability not only not all people with disabilities, is like how women are handling handle it. Sorry, and I think I mean, there are two important things, actually woman women with disability usually, I mean, are more isolated than men with disabilities. And actually, I mean, I can talk a little bit about Kenya, about Latin America them usually do the care job at their homes. So now, I think for some of them, it is true, there is a now we have the opportunity to learn about how to handle the isolation, also true that some of them are in really vulnerable conditions. Actually, I was reading something the last week about how women with disability are trying to handle the violence at home. I mean, the gender based violence at home, because now that in some countries, everybody’s at home all the day, they get anxious, and usually the violence is against them. So I can tell you, for example, and I think that’s important to maybe, to share, in Colombia, they open a hotline and there are women with disability. I mean, picking the phone, but they are giving support to other women with disability who are suffering violence inside home. And I think it’s very important to share this kind of experience because in some point, maybe we should start with those things like that. Because, women are not in the same situation than men with disability in the middle of this crisis.

Sophie: Really good point. I mean, all of the issues that women in general are facing now in increased violence, gender based violence, disabled women are disproportionately affected by that I can. I think that’s such a valid point.

Maria Rosa: And actually, for example, in some countries in South America, when somebody needs to go to the hospital is know the woman. They lead the woman for the second of the third option, and when a man is sick, everybody goes with him to the hospital, but when we when it’s about women, they don’t have the same story. To go down to the hospital. So yeah, I think, like woman in different conditions than men, and for sure women and girls with disability, are in a more vulnerable conditions.

Lizzie: Yeah, that’s definitely true. I don’t, I’m not sure, like what is in place in terms of, you know, emergency preparedness from your various governments, but I can speak for Kenya. And, you know, the women with disabilities are virtually invisible in, you know, programming and policy. So, to even allocate budgets that speak to the reality of women with disabilities and their needs is non existent. In refugee camps, for example, you know, things like issues around sexual and reproductive health are not taken into consideration, because it’s not something you know, the government has prepared for us. I’m curious about what your governments, your specific governments are doing from a social protection standpoint to ensure that maybe not only women have disabilities, but women in general are able to access services that they need on a day to day. Is there anything in India or the UK or Ecuador?

Sophie: Well, speaking from the UK, I have to say that we are in emergency response mode, it seems here so I, as far as I’m aware, so little is being done, measures being put in place, but it’s got to be done quicker. And of course, the community itself is recognizing that women with disabilities and girls with disabilities are disproportionately more affected by things like Gender-based violence. And so therefore, everything that’s going on right now, just we’re particularly vulnerable, but the problem is is that we’ve got so much to deal with the country is in lockdown is in panic, the army’s being brought into London to stop controlling people. It is, really that, rapid response. So, the answer is from me here. I think that we’re not there yet. We’re not ready yet. We aren’t prepared to help. And we’re doing the best that we can, of course, but I don’t. I mean, I say we, the government is doing. Yeah. But you know, it’s early days. And of course, at the moment, the real experience is a terrifying one for so many disabled people.

Clarence: Lizzie, we can also see that the government is trying to train the nurses on how to handle the coronavirus but for women with disabilities. When you go to the hospitals you can confirm that there’s no there’s no sign language interpreters for the Deaf. This is no accurate accessibility of the hospitals.

Lizzie: Yeah, that is a reality.

Millicent: You find the women, they go and fetch water from the river. And then here they’re being told you need to wash your hands with running water. So this is a woman with disability who depends on somebody else for such kind of services. So what is the government and you know, with all the money that is coming in, they have not even thought about this kind of this part of the population of Kenya, that they need to be included in whatever budgetary allocations that are taking place, whatever aid that is coming in to fight this, this particular issue, epidemic, because you’re being taught to sanitize, even in the urban areas, the middle income earning class, like know, the prices for the sanitizers have really skyrocketed. They’re not even available. So how is the government expecting a woman in the village to be able to access this kind of thing. So, I also believe that the ultimate information is being passed. It is to elite. It is not really speaking to our women with disabilities in their real actual, it’s not real. It’s a bit up there.

Sophie: As similar stories being told here in the UK that that even though Yeah, like you say that the hand sanitizers are being bought by other people and women with disabilities and people with disabilities are not being able to get access to that either. And, actually, you know, masks have been taken up, all of the resources and all of the things that are needed. For the day to day, lives of disabled people are being taken away, or the prices being put up. And other people are stockpiling and hoarding that and taking it away from people. So the government might be putting measures in place, but other people are taking advantage of it. So still, once again, disabled people are being left behind.

Lizzie: And also how this information is spreading, like I’m on social media. So, I get a lot of information like on Twitter, and, other social media platforms, but very limited information is being shared on mobile phones, the majority of the population in Kenya has access to those. But Internet, if you’re in a remote area, you don’t have, access to internet so even how this information is being shared

Sophie: Over here in the UK is that people are like I said earlier, they are realizing that that there are people hidden away thousands of people are hidden away with disabilities, now that everyone’s retreating into their own homes. So there is a more of an awareness or a sympathy, but still, the resources aren’t going to get to those people without the right, the right support to get to them. If that makes sense. It’s still, you know, there’s an awareness being raised, but yet people still don’t know how to get the resources there.

Ash: I just want to jump in right now and talk about how social distancing in some context for people with high care needs like a child with the cerebral palsy or somebody who’s completely dependent on caregiver for everyday living by family members or somebody assisting them? How are we going to do the social distancing? How is that going to work? So there’s no word about it. You know, anywhere any Advisory has not come up. Just a mention about how that can be done is not there. So I find that extremely, you know, upsetting. So, that’s one thing and also, I’m wondering about when we go into isolation about our mental health. Somebody who’s isolated, what I mean, how it’s going to affect somebody who’s already having panic

Lizzie: Psychosocial disabilities

Maria Rosa: Depression actually too.

Ash: Yes, depression. And especially somebody who is suicidal, but you’re isolated and you need to see somebody. I mean, how’s that going to work out in the days in the weeks to come? So I’m just wondering what we are going to uncover here.

Sophie: I really feel it’s gonna have to come from us. Not government.

Lizzie: I definitely think that it comes from us. Unfortunately, I actually like the flip side to this whole pandemic is because it’s allowing, it’s forcing us to look inward, and to not rely on Big brother to, solve our problems. We have to learn how to be self- reliant. I don’t think fear should be part of it. We need practical solutions, which we get from our networks. And this could be a network. I don’t know about the large organizations. I would be wary of, you know, trying to get them, to support because they’re also looking at the mainstream. You know, they have to solve problems that affect a large group of people and people with disabilities for a long time, they have not considered them a significant population. So why would they start now? I think it’s on us.

Maria Rosa: May I jump now? Now is the time I mean, of course, is up to this day to guarantee everybody, right. But now it’s also time to learn about the support networks and I think the feminist and I’m sorry, but I’m a feminist, but the feminist movement since the last two centuries, can teach everybody a lot. I mean, woman, we know how to support each other. And I think now, we cannot wait a lot of the from the States so it’s not Now, the time to I mean, to build support networks all around.

Sophie: So can I ask you in light of that, what would you say is the first what is the information that you think we need to spread first? Is it about the basics of how to protect yourself and sanitize and look after your well being on the basic level? Is that not getting through? Is it about how to manage when yourself isolating? Is it what Where do you think we could start because I feel very much in agreement women can help each other here as disabled women can help each other in particular. But what do we need to identify? Where do we start?

Lizzie: For me, I think centering women with disabilities in this discourse is critical. Like, this things that you know, for example, Ash, what you’re talking about, you know, a child with cerebral palsy who needs help from a caregiver, and this information that is being shared by government on how to protect yourself does not include a disability aspect. within this discourse is important, and whatever information is being put out there, whether it’s sanitation and hygiene, and you know, whatever it is, you know, how do we apply a disability lens to that, you know, and how do we look at it from a disability perspective, you know, how would a deaf person a blind person, somebody in a wheelchair

Ash: with lung disease, exactly how I would be cardiovascular disease?

Lizzie: Practically, how would they respond to this information? How does it make sense this is just my take.

Ash: I would, first of all emphasize or demand that all government information, their websites and their announcements today evening, our prime minister said to talk to the nation. And I’m just looking to see that he sent out a PMO officer a letter saying we want to sign language interpretation for his for his speech. But again, once country like India, we don’t have one sign language that everyone understands. So there are those challenges there. But we must insist that every information coming out must be inclusive. That’s one thing and then general information. And how do you make all other hand sanitizers? Because washing is again, a very big challenge for a lot of us, especially the limited mobility people. So that you must have access to sanitizers and stuff like that. And just generally information itself is more important.

Sophie: I think it’s so interesting to see how all of the issues that we face, I think you mentioned this before, one of you about how these are issues we’ve been facing forever lack of communication and the spread of information is, it’s something that just cuts disabled people off, you know, if you have any hearing impairment, you’re not going to get that information. It’s just compounded right now because of the urgency with which we need information. So, I mean, as somebody who uses social media as much as I can I don’t have a huge following, but I’m trying to spread as much information as possible. And I think that’s key, but like, you see so many people without internet, without phones, how do we get to them? And so I’m hearing it’s partly we want to lean on our government, but partly we want to take control for ourselves and take that give that information so I guess it’s a joined up effort, isn’t it? We need both.

All: It is a joint effort. Yes, it is. Yeah.

Millicent: Yeah. And I think we also have to use just our spaces make noise until the government has and does something about it. Because we are because if we don’t speak out, they will think we are fine.

Clarence: Okay.

Millicent: Yeah, we are Okay. I think it’s a high time that we use to whatever spaces that we are in. To call out and make the noise so that they realize that there’s a population that is being left behind. And that is equally affected by the epidemic, just like everybody else.

Lizzie: So I just want to thank all of you. I hope this was useful this. Thank you so much for your openness and for your willingness and for your time and energy.

(Music) Outro:

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