RESOURCE: How to Include Disabled Women in Your Organizations

Posted on 23 January 2008. Filed under: Case Studies, Cross-Disability, Inclusion, Resources, Women | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

[Originally published at (We Can Do) at]

Certain resources can help women’s organizations and international development agencies better include disabled women in their program activities. Skip to the resource list.

Women with disabilities confront many of the same challenges that other women in developing countries face, such as gender-based discrimination. But they also face some additional challenges, such as discrimination based on their disability. Some women’s organizations would like to advocate for the needs of disabled women in the same way that they advocate for all women. And international development agencies also want to ensure that they meet the needs of disabled women in the same way that they strive to meet the needs of all the poor people in the countries where they work.

But sometimes mainstream organizations aren’t sure how to begin. What barriers might they unknowingly create that make it harder for disabled women to participate in their programs’ activities or to make their needs known to their organization? What further barriers exist in society that may need to be overcome before an organization can more effectively serve women with disabilities? How can women’s organizations and international development agencies remove these barriers?

Several resources, listed below, can help. Mainstream organizations may wish to use these as guides to make their programs more accessible. Disabled People’s Organizations (DPOs) may wish to use these when communicating with mainstream organizations to persuade them to make change.

MIUSA’s “Checklist for Inclusion”
Mobility International USA (MIUSA) has a free checklist available (PDF format, 10 Mb). This 19-page self-assessment guide is written for mainstream international development agencies. It provides a series of questions that women’s organizations and international development agencies can use to help them identify what they’re already doing right and what things could be improved upon. For example: when you choose a meeting location, do you make sure that it is wheelchair accessible (ground-floor location with doors wide enough to accommodate wheelchairs, etc.)? Does your organization make its print materials available in non-print (Braille; diskette) and also large-print versions? Does your organization make qualified sign language interpreters available for its training, conference, and other program activities?

MIUSA’s International Development and Disability (IDD) Program
MIUSA’s International Development and Disability (IDD) program strives to bridge the disability community and the international development community in promoting the inclusion of people with disabilities as leaders and participants in development. It provides technical assistance and advice to both disabled people’s organizations and development agencies on gender and disability inclusion. In addition to their Checklist for Inclusion, organizations may wish to learn more about MIUSA activities, publications, videos, and other resources at MIUSA’s IDD web site:

In particular, note that the checklist on inclusion was originally written as part of a more comprehensive guidebook on disability inclusion entitled Building an Inclusive Development Community: A Manual on Including People with Disabilities in International Development Programs.

Can’t afford the book? Or want to supplement it with free resources? Consult MIUSA’s page of links to free resources:

Also, read some “best practice” stories (case studies) of other organizations that have successfully promoted disability inclusion in their activities:

Another item that might be of interest is an article written by Sarah Rosenhek at the Association for Women’s Rights in Development (AWID) about her experience learning about gender and disability through participating in MIUSA’s August 2006 Gender Disability and Development Institute (GDDI). Her article, entitled “Strengthening Women’s Rights Organizations through Inclusion: Lessons Learned from the Gender, Disability and Development Institute,” includes pragmatic advice for other women’s organizations that Rosenhek learned at the institute.

VSO’s Handbook on Mainstreaming Disability
Volunteer Service Overseas has a publication available on-line for free entitled A Handbook on Mainstreaming Disability (PDF format, 2 Mb). This handbook guides mainstream international development organizations in finding ways to overcome the stigma that can be associated with disability; how to actively integrate more disabled workers in the workplace; how to integrate more disabled participants in program activities; and how to integrate disability into organizational policy. Each chapter has case studies that describe how other organizations have implemented the advice given in this handbook. Download the handbook itself at (PDF format, 2 Mb)

The VSO’s Handbook on Mainstreaming Disability was previously featured at We Can Do, with an overview of its contents.

Siyanda On-line Database of Gender and Development Materials
Siyanda is targeted at development specialists who want to integrate gender equality issues into their work,whether or not they specialize in gender issues. This database makes iteasy to search for, and locate, full-length materials, that can bedownloaded for free. Its library of documents includes items in multiple languages including English, Spanish, Arabic, Portuguese, and others. Try a key word search for “disabilities.”

We Can Do learned about the MIUSA resources and the Siyanda on-line database through contacts at MIUSA.

Learn how to receive an email alert when new material is posted at We Can Do.

Make a Comment

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

4 Responses to “RESOURCE: How to Include Disabled Women in Your Organizations”

RSS Feed for We Can Do Comments RSS Feed

You may find the information from the current Disabiliyt Blog Carnival helpful.

Thank you, terri. Even though most or all of the participants in this Disability Blog Carnival seem to be from industrialized countries, I can tell just from skimming the titles and summaries that many of the posts in the carnival you point to have plenty to say that would be applicable to international development professionals working in developing countries also, particularly for people new to disability issues or to interacting with disabled people.

We take this opportunity to introduce to you Mahila Mandal Barmer Agor (MMBA) as NGO working in the rural villages of Marwar Region (Barmer, Jaisalmer, Jalore & Jodhpur district) of Rajasthan, India for last twenty years. Our thrust areas of operation are in the field of Rehabilitation and Ensuring the rights of Persons with Disabilities, Education, Rural Health and Sanitation, Empowering women, atrocities against women and girl children, strengthening Panchayat Raj institutions ( local self government ) etc.

According to the Census of India 2001, there are 2.19 crore people with disabilities in India who constitute 2.13 per cent of the total population. This includes persons with visual, hearing, speech, locomotor and mental disabilities. 75% of persons with disabilities live in rural areas, 49 per cent of disabled population is literate and only 34 per cent are employed. Where as in Rajasthan total no. of 1411979 people living with disability. It comes on 6th no. in India.

Disability is directly related to poverty, poor sanitation facilities in villages. Traditionally, disability issues have essentially been addressed as acts of charity. Persons with disabilities have suffered from a relative “invisibility”, and tended to be viewed as “objects” of protection, treatment and assistance rather than subjects of rights. Equal access to basic rights and fundamental freedoms including access to health care, employment, education, participation in cultural activities, that most people take for granted, have been denied to them.

Disabled women, therefore, comprise one of the most neglected, if not almost totally ignored segment of the population. A majority of women with disabilities in the Indian society live in complete subservience with very little control over their lives. There is a triple discrimination of gender, disability and poverty. Women are assigned a low status culturally. Cultural biases against women manifest themselves in preference for male children, incidents of female infanticides and/ or foetal murders, higher malnutrition among female children due to differential allocation of food among male and female children, preferential treatment of male children in terms of greater health care and access to education, dowry deaths and so on. Literacy rate of disabled women is low due to social attitudes, lack of facilities and inaccessibility of schooling resulting in minimal opportunities for them to become mobile and achieve economic independence.

Persons with disabilities are the most vulnerable and highly discriminated and have extremely limited access to the provisions made under Disabilities Act. That too, states of disabled people in rural villages that too in frontier district of Rajasthan is worse than other part of India. State and district administration ends its responsibilities just by providing support services and some times aids and appliances which is of no use to the PWDs in desert terrain.

In rural area, it is difficult to sensitize the PWDs to prepare them to address rights based issue. All they need is confidence and a sense of belongingness and the sense to fight for their basic rights should come from them and not through insisting. This can be done only through bringing them into groups. Even to bring them under one group there should be some motive. Even to make an entry to work with PWDs they need to be provided basic support services. Only this will increase their confidence on our efforts that someone is caring for them.

MMBA wants “Rights-based approach to disability” which essentially means viewing persons with disabilities as subjects of law. The main objective of this is to empower disabled persons, and to ensure their active participation in political, economic, social, and cultural life in a way that is respectful and accommodating of their difference.

MMBA wants to create network among organization working with disabled people to Leads to positive change through Advocacy, public Education, and Self Help. The main purpose of networking is to put pressure on the state / government and Central government. Generate awareness among villagers, teachers, and health functionaries about disable person and their responsibilities towards PWDs, improve the living standard of disabled people through organized and sustainable efforts and prevent the avoidable disabilities

In this regard, we would like to know the possibilities and the procedures to avail assistance from your esteemed organisation.

We are looking forward for more lively interaction with your esteemed organisation for the betterment of these people.

Looking fervently for your positive reply
With warm regards


(Ms Mumtaz Ben)
Email – ,
Mobile – 91-9414107446

we need hearing aids to our disabled poor people living in our locality of south india,is there anyone can guide us or help us.
with regard,
krda ngo email.;

Where's The Comment Form?


    Ending poverty among and oppression toward disabled people in developing countries.


    Subscribe Via RSS

    • Subscribe with Bloglines
    • Add your feed to Newsburst from CNET
    • Subscribe in Google Reader
    • Add to My Yahoo!
    • Subscribe in NewsGator Online
    • The latest comments to all posts in RSS


  • Subscribe!

  • Translate!

  • Connect to Andrea Shettle via Linked In

  • Archives

  • Topic Categories

  • Stumble Upon It!

    Stumble It! Share this blog with other readers via "Stumble Upon"!
  • We Can Do is in the GDRL!

  • Blog Stats

    • 740,712 hits
  • Meta

Liked it here?
Why not try sites on the blogroll...

%d bloggers like this: