Cape Town, South Africa | The South African Medical Research Council (SAMRC) is involved, through research design and leadership, in a Botswana based programme that will unpack potential strategies and interventions to reduce violence against women and girls with disabilities. The programme, titled ALIGHT Botswana, is a collaboration between the SAMRC, the Botswana Council for the Disabled (BCD) and the Institute of Development Management (IDM) and will take place over two years.
Globally, evidence reveals that people with disabilities are particularly at risk and are 2-8 times more likely to experience violence than their peers without disabilities. In Botswana, the level of violence is alarmingly high and has wide-ranging impact on individuals, families, communities, and the country as a whole. However, very little is known about the extent and experience of violence among women and girls with disabilities.
“Botswana has significant gaps in disability data and information as well as policies and programmes, which lack protection of the rights of people with disabilities and do not respond to the increased risk of violence among women and girls with disabilities,” says Principal Investigator and Specialist Scientist at the SAMRC’s HIV Prevention Research Unit Prof. Jill Hanass-Hancock.
ALIGHT Botswana is a project that responds to this dearth of knowledge about the extent of violence, including gender-based violence (GBV), against women and girls with disabilities. The project recognises that, without evidence and voice, women and girls with disabilities are left behind in the response to GBV and other forms of violence in Botswana and are therefore commonly forgotten or invisible in violence prevention strategies or interventions.
Essentially, the ALIGHT project sets out to fill evidence gaps through increasing the active involvement and inclusion of women and girls with disabilities in the development of inclusive policy framework and implementation strategies for Botswana. It also tries to understand which strategies could be developed or implemented to increase participation, of communities, and reduce violence against women and girls with disabilities. The two-year project will also develop the capacity of local NGO’s and disabled people’s organisations (DPO) in responding to violence against women and girls with disabilities.
“This project is important to us in the DPOs community as it enables us to focus our efforts on women and girls with disabilities, gather crucial evidence on risk factors of violence and understand how we can promote the participation of women and girls with disabilities in the existing programmes,” says Sekgabo Ramsay, Director of the Botswana Council for the Disabled. “We challenge the public to share their opinion on how we can reduce violence against these vulnerable groups and inform neighbouring countries such as South Africa where similar gaps exist.”
ALIGHT will host a series of events during the course of 16 Days of activism and leading up to World Disability Day on 3 December. These events are open to the public in Botswana and will include sport tournaments, media events as well as roundtable discussions.
NOTE TO THE EDITOR:
For more information about the ALIGHT project and its associated activities, visit the website
About ALIGHT: The ALIGHT project is a collaboration between the Botswana Council for the Disabled (BCD) and the Institute of Development Management (IDM). The South African Medical Research Council (SAMRC) will provide research leadership and design in the project. The work undertaken in this project has been made possible through the US Agency for International Development (USAID).
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