Gender Based Violence (GBV) and economic exclusion are two interlinked challenges. Our GBV program’s ultimate goal is disability-inclusive GBV services and access to justice, all anchored by economic empowerment of disabled women and girls. We believe the more women and girls with disabilities are economically independent the less susceptible they are to GBV.
Our three main achievements to date since we started our GBV programme in 2020 are as follows:
- We became the first organisation to conduct Disability Equality Training (DET) to the Criminal Justice System (CJS) at a national level, a move that saw over 500 officials from the South African Police Service (SAPS) and the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) receive training. Over a 100 officials from GBV service provision (shelters for women and children) also received training. In this manner, we changed attitudes and improved CJS’s service offering to become disability-inclusive We are confident to say DET to Shelters, SAPS and NPA at national level has improved accessibility and inclusion of the CJS and GBV services. Disability sensitization remains a huge need within CJS and GBV Services in South Africa, we hope to continue providing this service to engender broader access to justice for all disabled women.
- We developed the first ever Disability-GBV resource which was translated to accessible formats to educate disabled women and girls including women with intellectual disabilities. Accessible formats include Braille, South African Sign Language and Easy Read. Through this this resource, we made GBV knowledge and education accessible to disabled women and girls including those with intellectual disabilities. Using this resource we successfully trained disabled women to become Disability- GBV Peer educators on a pay it forward model. These women reached over 200 disabled women and girls through Disability-GBV peer group sessions. These sessions have uncovered several cases of sexual abuse that have been handed to the authorities. Through these sessions, counselling services have been provided to survivors. Our GBV programme engenders the detection of GBV cases amongst disabled persons that mainstream interventions fail to detect. Through the programme, we continue to support disabled survivors to navigate CJS system.
- We developed an e-hub, which is set to grow as a platform for disabled entrepreneurs, we empowered disabled entrepreneurs and we provided them access to information critical to the survival of their enterprises, we removed barriers to their economic participation. Our enterprise development programme continues to scout for GBV survivors and disabled women to equip them with entrepreneurial skills.
Through these activities, we empower disabled women to rise above and against GBV, we bridge the gap between mainstream GBV education and disability and we intend to continue doing so at a national level. These actions are necessary because disabled women and girls have been largely excluded from mainstream GBV interventions yet they constitute the most vulnerable group to GBV.
Our Enabled Womxn Arise (EWA – using the term womxn to include women-identifying and gender non-conforming persons) project was launched in July 2022 with the aim of equipping women and girls with disabilities with knowledge around gender-based violence, with an emphasis on the intersection of disability and gender- based violence in South Africa.
The project also sensitizes service providers within the Criminal Justice System on matters pertaining to GBV towards womxn and girls with disabilities, and also increases self-representation of womxn and girls with disabilities, challenging them to speak out on this matter.
The project trains womxn and girls with disabilities around GBV, where after they become Disability-GBV Ambassadors/Peer educators, forming peer groups of not more than 10 persons to share knowledge acquired from training and experiences with fellow womxn and girls with disabilities in their communities or chosen areas.
The first group of womxn and girls has been trained and are presently working in their communities.