Together with its partner Zambia National Women’s Lobby, Demo Finland has supported women’s political participation at the local level in Zambia since 2013. The cooperation expands as the organisations launch a new project to strengthen the political participation of persons with disabilities. The third partner in the new project is a Zambian organisation Disability Rights Watch.
The main goal of the project is to strengthen the inclusivity of the multiparty system and to promote equal opportunities for persons with disabilities to participate and influence in politics. The project increases the capacities of political parties on disability inclusive measures and supports political parties in developing strategies, guidelines and action plans which better reflect the inclusion of persons with disabilities. In addition, networking and cross-party cooperation between persons with disabilities will be supported so that they can more effectively promote the rights of persons with disabilities. One of the project’s training programs specifically strengthens the participation of persons with disabilities in the 2021 general elections.
According to WHO’s estimation, there are about 2 million persons with disabilities in Zambia. The country has ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and has since then included persons with disabilities in various policies and laws. However, they remain a largely discriminated and politically invisible group. One reason for this has been that the political parties have not had sufficient will and expertise to support the inclusion of persons with disabilities.
The project has started with surveying the starting level of the political parties in terms of disability inclusion and with trainings on disability and gender issues to the staff and volunteers of the implementing organisations. The actual project launch event takes place in Lusaka on 5 November, and trainings on disability inclusion will be organised for nine political parties before the end of the year.