UNABU (Umuryango Nyarwanda w’Abagore Bafite Ubumuga) is an organization managed by women with disabilities, for women with disabilities. It promotes gender equality in Rwanda by encouraging women with disabilities to gather and discuss their respective situations and challenges, in order to collectively find solutions to overcome the discrimination they may experience. They include women with all types of disabilities, as well as mothers of girls with disabilities.
UNABU is currently leading this practice in 2 districts in Rwanda, with 20 groups in Muhanga (300 women) and 8 groups in Rwamagana (170 women).
What is the practice?
UNABU identifies community mobilizers at district level. They receive training on women’s rights, persons with disabilities rights, and diverse types of gender-based violence.
Community mobilizers then create groups of women with disabilities, or mothers of a girl with disabilities, by collaborating with the local authorities, putting up informative posters about the groups (in churches, community rooms, etc.), and conducting home visits when necessary.
The women gather in the group and are guided by the community mobilizer to discuss their personal experiences and issues. Group members are orientated towards the relevant structures that will help overcome their issues (whether legal, medical, etc.) and encouraged to contact them.
They also come up with ideas to generate incomes and open a joint bank account to implement a micro-credit system, in order to support their activities and to help solving individual issues. Some groups are manufacturing baskets, other shoes, and so on, to be sold on the markets.
What positive changes did the practice generate?
Overall, these = groups have proven very successful. Participating in the groups brings confidence and self-esteem to the women, as many have been discriminated for a long time because of their disabilities.
The discussions also enable the participants to know their rights, and to find support to make their voices heard and their rights respected in their home and community. They also have better access to the relevant legal and medical structure, depending on their situation.
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