Women with disabilities share challenges

Friday, August 29, 2014

Pretoria – Women with disabilities, from different walks of life, have shared their challenges with Deputy Minister for Social Development, Hendrietta Bogopane-Zulu, at a conference in Durban.

Speaking at the National Conference for Women with Disabilities on Thursday, the women spoke out about the challenges faced by their children as well, by merely being born to mothers with diabilities. They especially pointed to a lack of knowledge in mainstream schools regarding disability issues. 

The mothers described how they struggle to be taken seriously at schools attended by their children, some of whom also have disabilities.

Another mother, who was visually impaired, described how she battled to help her child with homework that involved working with colours.

The women said they felt as if their children were prejudiced at schools based on their parents’ disability, and that this made life difficult for them and negatively affected their development and learning.

Although caregivers are trained to deal with children with disabilities, there is a need to capacitate and support mothers and/or parents of children with disabilities so they can provide for the special needs of their children.

The Department of Social Development said it was working on developing care services that will provide relief to parents of children with disabilities thereby reducing unintended abuse and neglect. 

This will go hand-in-hand with the establishment; support and strengthening of provincial parental support structures for children with disabilities.

The conference was aimed at providing a platform for disabled women to engage on critical issues facing women with disabilities as well as to inform the planning of programmes at the department.

The Minister of Social Development, Bathabile Dlamini, has been engaging with the disability sector to identify which areas should be prioritised for action going forward.

This follows President Jacob Zuma's announcement that issues of disabilities will fall within the mandate of the Department of Social Development under the new administration.

The Minister has appointed a committee comprehensively to tackle the human rights challenges facing people with disabilities in the country. The committee will present a detailed and practical programme of action within three months.

The outcomes of the Conference for Women with Disabilities, which ends on Friday, will also inform this programme of action. – SAnews.gov.za