Empowering Women Tackle Violence and Abuse of Persons with Deafblindness

Lessons from Uganda

In 2021, Sense International Uganda (SI Uganda) joined a consortium led by the Uganda Society for Disabled Children and Peace and Humanitarian Security Resources in a peacebuilding project aimed at removing barriers to women’s meaningful participation in violence and conflict prevention.


The project focused on women with disabilities and female caregivers of persons with disabilities, and SI Uganda facilitated the inclusion of women with deafblindness and mothers and female caregivers of children with deafblindness. Leaders at the local and national level, the media, and family members were active stakeholders in the programme.


The project sought to improve the meaningful participation of the beneficiaries in early conflict warning at both the national and district levels. Violence and conflict were broadly interpreted to include all types of violence, such as collective violence (e.g., violent gangs), interpersonal violence (e.g., domestic violence, child abuse, etc.), and economic violence (e.g., property seizures, exclusion from development programmes, etc).


The beneficiaries were empowered as Fem Wise-Africa mediators, a network of African women in conflict prevention and mediation and a subsidiary mechanism of the African Union.


This two-year project used a range of activities, including trainings and community dialogue, to ensure that:

  • Key decision-makers develop favourable attitudes towards women as mediators
  • Women and children with disabilities establish early warning systems to prompt dialogue and a mechanism for addressing it
  • Conflict and violence prevention mechanisms led by parents’ groups for children and youth with disabilities that are linked to the national mainstream mechanisms
  • Mainstreaming of conflict prevention and peacebuilding programmes to ensure that they include persons with deafblindness.


Some key learnings from the project include:

  • Persons with deafblindness need to be sensitised about violence so that they understand how to identify violence and so that they can be empowered
  • Persons with deafblindness should be involved so that they can learn to express and share their concerns about violence in a safe environment
  • Stigma in the community needs to be addressed so that persons with deafblindness are not hidden in their communities, which puts them at higher risk of violence and exclusion
  • Both men and women need to be involved in peacebuilding programmes to understand the gender dynamics of conflict and violence
  • Leaders and decision-makers at local and national levels need to clearly understand the types of violence affecting persons with deafblindness, including the ways in which they are at risk of violence, abuse, and exploitation and the interventions that address violence
  • There are good laws and policies in place to prevent and respond to violence, but a proactive approach is needed to implement these policies, particularly for groups like persons with deafblindness
  • The network / community approach helps to provide a safe environment and helps women to speak out
  • Poor economic conditions and lack of social protection supports contribute significantly to the incidence of conflicts and violence
  • More research and data are needed on violence against persons with deafblindness.


By mainstreaming persons with deafblindness into broader disability programmes and mainstream mechanisms, like Fem Wise-Africa, there is greater awareness of the daily violence that persons with deafblindness face – the aggression they encounter, not being taken seriously, dismissive responses, refusals to accommodate them, and overall exclusion. In this project, peacebuilding went beyond the absence of violence and focused on meeting the daily needs, including economic needs, of persons with deafblindness and the enjoyment of their rights while creating a network for advocacy and inclusion.

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