The Zambia Sport Association of the Deaf has called on stakeholders in the sport sector to recognize the sport participation of persons with hearing impairments. This was during a Consultative Meeting hosted by NOWSPAR to strategize towards increased participation of women with hearing impairments in sport.
The meeting was attended by some members of the Executive Committee of the Zambia Sport Association of the Deaf (ZSAD) and the ZSAD Women’s Committee. The meeting looked at the current situation of the ZSAD regarding women’s participation, the challenges of women participation in leadership and the barriers to sport participation found through the NOWSPAR baseline survey.
NOWSPAR is aware of the special challenges that women with disabilities face in accessing sport. The challenge has a double nature because deaf women have to face the challenge of gender stereotypes and barriers as well as the limitations in access to sport due to their imparment.
Women’s Committee Secretary Kapembwa Adrina said the Zambia Sport Association of the Deaf (ZSAD) is a young organisation in need of support to enable it develop its structures and programmes, including how to run sports leagues, how to develop programme and to raise resources.
NOWSPAR Executive Director Matilda Mwaba pointed out that “Increasing women’s participation in the ZSAD will require overall development of the association, as it is the association which runs the programmes. Once the association has the capacity to implement sports club structure and activities, then it can provide an avenue and sustained platform for women and girls involvement.”
President of the Association Mr. Prosper Mulinda reported to the meeting that since becoming members of NOWSPAR last year, the Association has since elected a women’s committee to increase the opportunities for women’s involvement in leadership as they were not adequately represented on the Executive Committee of the Association.
Earlier this year, NOWSPAR supported the ZSAD to meet the costs of affiliation fees to the National Sports Council of Zambia the regulatory body of sport, without which it would not legally exist. The ZSAD had been unable to meet this cost this year as it had been increased drastically beyond their current capacity to pay.
ZSAD is a member of NOWSPAR, and contributions from NOWPSAR have also been in form of opportunities for participation in workshops and conferences, facilitating media coverage, contribution of sport equipment and branded t-shirts, administrative support and networking linkages.
Some key recommendations and actions:
Capacity Development of leaders of the women’s sports clubs in the provinces was identified as critical. ZSAD and NOWSPAR are working together to develop a training programme to achieve this.
Sport Facilities: the association will look into partnering with the Zambia Deaf Association to access land to establish sport fields for netball and football.
Sport Equipment: the association received some volleyballs, netballs, footballs, badminton and chess sets. However, these were still insufficient as they were distributed to clubs in other provinces as well. The association will corporate with NOWSPAR to establish partnerships with the corporate sector and other organizations to facilitate support.
HIV/AIDS Awareness: there is a need for the association to have trained people to conduct awareness among the sport participants as they are missing out on this information.
Access to media: the association has not received much media coverage and this has contributed to the lack of support by the corporate sector. Field visits for the media will be organized to ensure the media have access the activities of the deaf sports groups. NOWSPAR will also continue to provide space on its web pages for information on the association’s women’s activities.
“Through the Sheroes Campaign NOWSPAR is highlighting women and girls in sport to demonstrate their participation in sport in order to challenge the stereotypes and inspire communities to support women and girls. In order to show that ‘disability is not inability’ the campaign will highlight some sports persons with hearing impairments” Matilda Mwaba said to the media personnel present at the meeting.
Administrative facilities: the association is in need of a computer, desk and stationery. The association has an office provide by the Zambia Deaf Association. There is need to mobilize resources to acquire a computer and other administrative equipment.
NOWSPAR in addition, is supporting the association to develop its governance capacity and administrative capacity through technical support.
In a TV Interview after the workshop, ZSAD Women’s Committee Chairperson Ireen Kaayo said ‘participating in sport is good for women who are deaf, it helps us to be healthy and to interact with others. We also want to do sport because we enjoy it. The government used to have a good programme for sport for deaf children in schools- they would host an annual tournament every year, but not anymore, they say there is no money. But this was a good programme, now there is nothing.”
NOWSPAR General Secretary Ms. Lombe Mwambwa in her presentation said: “…deaf sport persons have fallen into a system crack and are forgotten- they are neglected by the mainstream sport system and are also not considered under sport for persons with disabilities”
NOWSPAR has continued to lobby the government and other sport structures to cooperate, develop opportunities and allocate resources for the needs of sport for deaf persons.
As argued by many scholars, the problem is not disability but the failure to create an environment that is considerate. So, the challenge of accessing sport by persons with hearing impairments is not present because they have hearing impairments- the problem is our sport system has not recognized their needs and therefore not adequately responded through policies, systems, processes and facilities.
This is sustained by the exclusion of persons with hearing impairments from decision making processes including law formulation, policy development, and infrastructure and programme design.
This is evident by the continued lack of recognition of the impact they experience due to budget cuts or realignments and programme changes within the sector.
The meeting was hosted by NOWSPAR with the support of the Norwergian Olympic and Paralympic Committee and Conferdaration of Sport (NIF).