DISABLED WOMEN IN DEVELOPMENT (DIWODE) BUILDING PARTNERSHIP WITH FINANCIAL AND LENDING INSTITUTIONS MARCH 2006 INTRODUCTION The Federation of Disability Organizations in Malawi (FEDOMA)from June 2005 organized Capacity Building Sessions for it’s seven affiliates. The sessions had various components for example – Organizational Structures Organizational Management Communication Project planning and designing Proposal writing. At the end, we were asked to put in practice the proposal writing session by developing proposals that FEDOMA could fund. The sealing was MK100, 000.00. So DIWODE proposed to organize a workshop on Building Partnership with the Financial /Lending Institutions in Blantyre to lobby for mechanisms in their systems that can assist women with disabilities for accessing resources from these institutions. This workshop was to beef up a similar workshop we had in Lilongwe in August 2005. BACKGROUND In August 2005 DIWODE with sponsorship from SAFOD in conjunction with FEDOMA organized a Building Partnership workshop with Financial /Lending Institutions in Lilongwe to lobby for disability friendly mechanisms for accessing resources to women with disabilities. Knowing that the Lilongwe Institutions are branches, DIWODE felt it wise to organize a similar workshop in Blantyre where these institutions Headquarters are based. This time we were targeting the top decision making positions. The objective of the workshop was to promote participation of women with disabilities in socio-economic processes at all levels. The workshop was held at Alexander Hotel in Limbe on 2nd March, 2006. We invited ten (10) Financial/Lending Institutions, ten (10) women with disabilities, seven (7) representatives from electronic and print media houses, DIWODE Trustee as a Guest of Honour, two support staff, one attendant, two (2) guides, one interpreter and an in house facilitator/coordinator of the workshop. It was a half day workshop to give chance to the participants to go back I time to attend to their day to day operations. Our main target groups were the Financial /Lending Institutions. WORKSHOP METHODOLOGY AND PROCEEDINGS The workshop entailed presentations and discussions in plenary and in groups. The workshop proceeding started with a word of grace by the chairperson of DIWODE, also one of the organizers of the workshop. The Coordinator /Facilitator of the workshop the Executive Director of DIWODE in brief presented the background of DIWODE and also introduced the workshop methodology, proceedings and objectives, to the participants to familiarize them with the day. OPENING REMARKS In his opening remarks, one of the DIWODE Trustees firstly pronounced his concern with low turn out of the media. He said that he did not know weather it was due to poor communication or else negative attitude toward disability functions. Secondly he welcomed all the participants and thanked them for their attendance which showed respect to the disability movement which is a marginalized grouping. He sensitized and brought awareness to the participants especially the Financial/Lending Institutions that disability is a cross-cutting issue, a human rights issue and therefore it is a developmental issue to be mainstreamed at all levels of developmental interventions. He also pointed out that other institutions say disability issues are for MACOHA or FEDOMA; he retaliated this and asked them to address disability issues in their Institutions programmes and services by putting in place disability friendly mechanisms for accessing resources to women with disabilities. He urged DIWODE to take the forum seriously since it was the only gathering to raise their sentiments. Lastly but not least he thanked FEDOMA for sourcing the funds to support DIWODE for the workshop to be held at a such magnificent held Hotel. Then the workshop was officially opened. PRESENTATIONS FEDOMA PROFILE FEDOMA profile was presented by Mr. Kassim Gama In his presentations he brought out the following issues:- FEDOMA background dates back from 1999. It has seven affiliates (see appendix) He said the affiliates in general are called Disabled Persons Organizations) To wind up he talked on disability terminologies and how they can best be used in a disability friendly format. Some of the words were Disability Handicapped Impairment Visually Impaired Speech and hearing impairments e.t.c FINANCIAL /LENDING INSTITUTIONS BRIEF PRESENTATIONS 1- MALAWI SERVINGS BANK The only banking institution in attendance. Its products are the with other banks in Malawi. It is the only bank managing MASAF 111 COMSIP component and MADERF funds. 2- SMALL ENTERPRENUR DEVELOPMENT OF MALAWI (SEDOM) Established in 1982 by Malawi Savings Union and Government of Malawi. It has three loan programmes:- - Private sector Development fund - Micro Enterprise fund - Fishing Development fund (this is in five districts only) They require surety for one to access a loan. 3- PRIDE MALAWI Started in 2000 with one product but now they added two more These are :- - Solidarity Groups: 5 people grouping in a group of 50 people - Napwepwete: - beneficiaries graduate from the solidarity groups - Individual loans :- only to special cases. 3- NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF BUSINESS WOMEN (NABW) - Started in 1990. It is a membership organization. It’s services are benefited by paid up members only. The services are:- - Training (e.g business management - Credits - Information dissemination in marketing These services are provided in groups - The group assets loan comprises of the following Maize mills Poultry Bakery Piggery NABW is operating in ten districts Blantyre, Lilongwe inclusive. MALAWI SOCIAL ACTION FUND (MASAF) Assisting communities through grants There are two components that can assist women with disabilities -Social support Programme SSP - Community savings Investment Project (COMSIP) ( COMSIP encourages the community in savings and also within the project there are trainings in Business skills and Linking groups to Financial/Lending institutions) PRESENTATION ON CHALLENGES FACING WOMEN WITH DISABILITIES WHEN ACCESSING LOANS BY S KASASI - The situation of poverty and disability was recognized in the MPRSP – under Pillar 3 –“Improving the quality of Life of the most vulnerable but nothing much was done to acceptable standards. - Women with disabilities experience greater discrimination and high levels of exclusion from the mainstream society. - As women are fighting for the equalization of opportunities with men, women with disabilities struggle to be recognized first as human beings and secondly as female so they are always left behind meaningful development. - Economic barriers disadvantages women with disabilities even more in terms of access to loans, business ventures and employment avenues because of the negative attitude s in the society towards persons with disabilities in general and double disadvantage for women with disabilities resulting in the majority living in abject poverty with no access to resources and income. - Lack of disability friendly communication and information dissemination formats in forms of Braille for the visually impaired, Large prints for the Low vision, signs and symbols for the hearing and speech impaired and accessible infrastructures (building roads etc) for the physically disabled using wheelchairs and clutches. There is high illiteracy level amongst women with disabilities hence their failure to participate fully in income generating activities and small scale industries. In recommendation to address the economic challenges faced by women with disabilities, there is a need for interventions as follows:- - Promotion of gender responsive and disability friendly policies to assist remove inequalities that exist in the society. - Information should be communicated and disseminated in disability friendly formats eg o Written information in Braille for the visually impaired. o Large prints 16 font size for persons with low vision and also well lit rooms o Signs and symbols for the hearing and speech impaired. o Accessible building, roads, counters etc for persons with physical disabilities using wheelchairs and crutches. o Women with disabilities should be empowered through provision of education and training to enhance their opportunities to participate in meaningful development. o Women with disabilities to network with existing women groups to win trust and inclusion. o Women with disabilities to make use of every opportunity to improve their knowledge and skills to make the policies of empowering women a reality. EXPERIENCES OF WOMEN WITH DISABILITIES -Negative attitude of the society towards persons with disabilities and issues pertaining to disability. - Disability unfriendly policies in most institutions (e.g. grace period and surety.) - Lack of disability friendly access to information formats. - Inaccessible building and roads making mobility different for the physically disabled. - Lack of appropriate knowledge and skills to over come their problems and assist them to surpass the board and specific economic barriers they experience in their day to day lives. GROUP RECOMMENDATIONS 1- Changing and amendments of programmes and services in institution are a policy issue. Therefore, DIWODE should continue to lobby the institutions door to door . 2- As prime movers, women with disabilities should be on the forefront inquiring information and giving sample accessible information formats. 3- As a strategy for policy change process women with disabilities should be joining existing women groups to show their competencies and win trust. 4- To bring awareness to the society on the rights needs and potentials of women with disabilities. CONCLUSION We urge the financial and lending institutions to be flexible in their condition for loan applicants, for example by putting in place mechanisms in their systems that can assist women with disabilities for accessing resources. People with disabilities and women in particular are poorest of the poor; women need training to acquire business skills and give the chance to obtain capital. They can do very well. The society should not look at the disability but rather focus at the capability. Miss Elizabeth Machinjiri closed the workshop with a word of prayer.