Women with albinism are making a strong and growing contribution to changing perceptions and seeing all People with Albinism (PWA) and other marginalised groups being integrated into society more fully.

Albinism is a rare disease caused by the absence of melanin, which affects about one in 20 000 people in Africa. Albinism causes great difficulty among school-going children in particular, because of the risk of skin cancer and poor eyesight, which affects their ability to see what is written on the blackboard and therefore to keep up with the class. In the rural areas of Africa, PWA are hidden away from society for fear of being ridiculed, labelled a curse and, in some shocking cases, murdered or exhumed from graves for body parts.

Over the last five years there has been a growing awareness of the fight for PWA with the intention of transforming this meaningless discrimination into acceptance and inclusivity. 

A Miss Zimbabwe Albinism initiative, the first ever beauty pageant for women with albinism, was launched in March 2018 by Brenda Mudzimu of the Zimbabwe Albinism Trust (ZAT). It created a platform for women living with albinism to feel beautiful and become confident, and “to speak out, be heard, fight back and stand up for themselves, so the challenges they face do not die inside their hearts,” Mudzimu said.   

The event has sparked widespread Pan-African interest, which Mudzimu believes will necessitate a Miss Albinism Africa in the near future. As a trained nurse, the 33-year-old has dreams for something even bigger – an initiative that can combine her two passions of health and beauty. The 2019 event has already expanded to include the participation of men.

Mudzimu explained, “Raising awareness through modelling is powerful to the younger generations. I could see the change for people with albinism. Those people who participated gained confidence and the knowledge that they can express themselves like anybody else. We are raising awareness that beauty is not skin deep, but inside we are beautiful, intelligent and can do amazing things.”

Source :This Is Africa

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ZIMENE MUMAKONDA

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