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Ensuring equal rights for women with disabilities through sport

Women in wheelchairs in Kenya playing sport
Author: This-Ability

Ensuring equal rights for women with disabilities through sport

How This-Ability has leveraged sports to ensure the full inclusion of women and girls with disabilities in Kenya.

When we hear the term “disability,” for most people what comes into mind is the idea of what someone cannot do or something physically wrong that prevents one from engaging in activities that the majority can engage in. This piece tells the story of Lizzie Kiama, the managing trustee of This-Ability Trust, whose organisation has leveraged sports to ensure the full inclusion of women and girls with disabilities.

At 18, Lizzie lost her mobility in a car accident. A few years later, while expectant, she came face to face with challenges that women with disabilities face while trying to access reproductive health services. After a difficult pregnancy and the birth of her daughter, Lizzie lost mobility permanently as a result of pregnancy-related complications. This sent her into depression. However, she successfully rose above the hopelessness that comes with it and showed that adversity introduces us to part of ourselves we did not know existed, and that we can recover and heal.

On healing, she decided to be the voice that validates, comforts and gives hope to women and girls with disabilities and to be on the forefront to fight for their rights and inclusion, and most importantly, let them know that they are not alone and that someone cares.

It is then that she made a decision to create a platform that is accessible to everyone which would provide valuable insights and tools to deal with women with disabilities, and so in 2012, This-Ability Consulting was born. The social enterprise was started to help companies implement sustainable inclusive business models and strategies. Over the years, the organisation has grown into a leading non-profit that impacts the lives of women and girls with disabilities in Kenya.

Lizzie found that Kenya offered very few adaptive sports facilities despite the fact that sports has the power to change lives and it is one of the great drivers of gender equality. Through sports, This-Ability teaches women teamwork, self-reliance, resilience and confidence. This project was started to guarantee the right to fitness and exercise and enjoyments on human rights as set out in the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

Lizzie believes that there should be no disparities in sports, nor in the workplace or in life, and that women with disabilities should be treated as equals in all respects. In addition to the series of wheelchair rugby workshops, the project incorporates workshops on sexual and reproductive health rights, leadership and economic empowerment. During the workshops, This-Ability partners with various stakeholders including midwives and doctors offering on-site family planning services and health screenings as this an ideal one-stop platform for social change.

Speaking during the feedback session, one of our team players Lizzie said that wheelchair rugby has enabled her to achieve physical fitness and allowed her to be more active. Lizzie was born with polio, which made her feel isolated and depressed. She said that physical exercise is an all-natural treatment to help fight depression, improve her mood, reduce her anxiety and has generally helped her feel better. Lizzie was grateful that finally she found a space that allowed her to access family planning services and to interact with other women with disabilities.

This-Ability Trust is a non profit working to advance the rights and inclusion of women and girls with disabilities in Kenya.


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Tuesday, March 3, 2020 - 16:16