NEWS: Disability Advocate, Gladys Charowa, Dies

Posted on 21 April 2008. Filed under: Children, Education, Human Rights, News, Sub-Saharan Africa Region, Women | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The following email was recently circulated on the AdHoc_IDC listserv, an email discussion group devoted to disability rights and the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), as a tribute to fellow listserv member and disability rights advocate, Gladys Charowa.

Hi folks,

The vast majority of you will have seen many posts here from Gladys Charowa from the DWSO. She was a great supporter of the Convention and worked hard to ensure that her group were not going to be excluded from the Convention nor from the process.

It is with great sadness to that I have to inform you of Gladys Charowa who was the Executive Director of Disabled Women Support Organisation (Zimbabwe). Gladys suffered a stroke on the 6th of March and her health subsequently deteriorated leading to her death on the 7th of March, 2008 in Harare, Zimbabwe.

Gladys Charowa was involved in the disability movement since February 2002 during her rehabilitation in Harare after breaking her back in a car crash in December 2001. She was released from hospital in April 2002 after experiencing the conditions tolerated by the women who were also being rehabilitated. She decided to set up the Disabled Women Support Organisation (DWSO) after helping some of the service users at the centre; for example, she successfully petitioned an education examination board to allow a student with disabilities additional time to sit her examinations. Gladys wanted to challenge the traditional view that there is nothing that can be done to support women and girls who are spinally injured.

DWSO works alongside hospitals, often in rural areas, to provide support for individuals and their families to become both physically and financially independent; this includes training to sensitise the community, peer group education and micro-finance projects. DWSO is one of the first disability organisations to have projects in each of the 10 provinces of Zimbabwe.

DWSO also works with schools, setting up Disability Clubs and projects to help children and parents to increase their understanding of the needs of disabled people. Since 2002, she worked tirelessly as a disability activist fighting for poverty reduction, particularly among disabled women. Gladys was an active disability activist at both national and international level, and contributed immensely to disability related literature. Gladys will be greatly missed in disability activism and may her soul rest in peace after working so hard for a good cause.

Some of Gladys Charowa’s publications

(i) Reply to a statememt for discussion: investing in education for children with disabilities is economically not interesting

March 1, 2006 – Published by: Dutch Coalition on Disability and Development (DCDD), Available at

(ii) Body blows: in the thick of Zimbabwe’s current turmoil, women with disabilities face hellish prejudice, hunger and rape. Gladys Charowa bears witness.(POVERTY & GENDER)(Column) – Published in New Internationalist, November 1, 2005

Best wishes,


Frank Mulcahy

Thank you to Frank Mulcahy of Ireland for sharing this sad news with the AdHoc_IDC listserv.

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