Human Rights of Women and Girls with Disabilities (HRWGD) – a Malawian registered non-profit and non-governmental (NGO) membership organization of women and girls with disabilities – has lamented exclusion of females with disabilities in the newly constituted Presidential Taskforce on COVID-19.
President Peter Mutharika directed that a the taskforce be established to oversee the fight against coronavirus disease (Covid-19) in Malawi, replacing -the Special Ministerial Committee on COVID-19, which was dissolved following public outcry that the committee was not inclusive enough and lacked technical expertise to carry out its duties.
HRWGD national coordinator, Stella Nkhonya, said while they welcomed and commended Mutharika for directing the constitution and formation of the Presidential Taskforce on Covid-19, her organization was concerned that women and girls with disabilities were sidelined in the taskforce.
“We also acknowledge for the efforts taken by the government in coming up with National Covid-19 Preparedness and Response Plan. However, the plan has not visibly and directly placed disability issues and its line Ministry.
“We kindly request President Mutharika and the government to include females with disabilities in the Presidential Taskforce on Covid-19. Including women and girls with disabilities will ensure that COVID-19 responds to their need,” said Nkhonya.
She further disclosed that there is no Disability Guidelines and Action Plan while other marginalized and vulnerable groups, namely young people and people living with HIV (PLHIV), have guidelines and action plans on the COVID-19 response.
“As a result of our exclusion in the Task Force and Covid-19 Clusters, our issues are not comprehensively included in the Covid-19 response. Without our participation and meaningfully engaged in the Covid-19 response, there are no disability friendly information education and communication materials on Covid-19.
“Our inclusion and engagement in the Covid-19 Presidential Taskforce and clusters will enable us to complement government’s efforts in the Covid-19 response from females with disability lens,” Nkhonya stressed.