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.

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CALL FOR PROPOSALS: Forum on Women’s Rights and Development

Posted on 16 December 2007. Filed under: Announcements, Call for Papers, Events and Conferences, Human Rights, Opportunities, Women | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The 11th AWID International Forum on Women’s Rights and Development

The Power of Movements

November 14-17, 2008
Cape Town, South Africa

(Click here to download the PDF of the full Call for Proposals)

From November 14-17, 2008, up to 1,500 women’s rights activists from around the world will gather in Cape Town, South Africa to debate and strategize about how to build stronger women’s movements globally. The Association for Women’s Rights in Development (AWID) invites you to contribute to this urgent discussion by submitting a proposal to organize a session at the 11th AWID forum: The Power of Movements.

We Can Do readers will note that this forum is not specifically focused on disability issues. However, it would be an opportunity for Disabled People’s Organizations (DPOs) and other interested parties to introduce topics of relevance to movements among women with disabilities in developing countries. We Can Do readers may also wish to consider submitting proposals for sessions on including women with disabilities among the wider women’s movements generally. You could also explore how to build bridges between women’s movements and disability movements, or explore what lessons each movement has to learn from the other.

Session proposals should consider one of the following questions:

Understanding social movements and collective power

  • What is a movement and what is movement building? What are the diverse ways in which movements can be built?
  • What are the strengths and limitations of movements? How do you recognize a movement in decline?
  • What role does constituency building play in movements? How do you build constituencies?
  • What makes a movement “feminist”, and how do its character, approaches and strategies differ from other movements, even if they are led and constituted by women?

Unpacking the architecture of feminist and women’s movements

  • What kinds of organizational structures have evolved through time to successfully support feminist and women’s movements? What other structures do we need to strengthen or build in order to build up the institutional capacity and impact of women’s movements?
  • What role (formal and informal) do organizations play in movements? How can the relationship between women’s organizations and movements be understood?
  • What forms of organizing have appeared in recent years, both in women’s movements and in other social movements? What can we learn from these forms, and what other forms do we still need to develop?

Challenges to effective movement building work

  • What are the key obstacles to movement building today? What are some innovative and effective responses to these obstacles?
  • How can we strengthen and build new and innovative leadership styles and models that contribute to movement building? Which models obstruct or impede movement building?
  • How do we deal collectively and constructively with the politics and tensions within our movements over issues such as over-specialization, North-South/East-West tensions, unequal access to resources, leadership, succession, competition, etc.?
  • What are the movement building challenges faced by social movements in areas or countries under occupation, armed conflict or war? What are examples of effective ways to support their efforts? What are alternatives to movement building in countries where social movements are routinely targeted with threats and intimidation?

Overcoming fragmentation and building inclusive movements

  • How do we build more inclusive movements? What mistakes have we made in the past, and how do avoid them going forward? What have been key lessons learnt in dealing with issues such as class, race, age, religion, ethnicity and other conditions in trying to build inclusive movements?
  • How do we overcome the fragmentation and overspecialization in our movements-e.g. the increasing specialization on particular issues, sectors or themes-to build bridges, common political agendas and shared strategies?
  • How can we build better linkages and do more effective strategizing across levels of activism-e.g., between those doing grassroots work and those doing advocacy at the public-policy level?
  • What other linkages do we urgently need to build, and how do we build them?

Building sustainable, multi-generational movements

  • What are the diverse needs and contributions of different generations of women, and how can we draw upon them to create stronger and more sustainable movements?
  • How can multi-generational dialogues work to strengthen our movements? What are some good experiences of such dialogues and what impacts-good or bad-have they had?
  • How can women’s movements build spaces that significantly incorporate and support-rather than tokenize-young women’s contributions to gender equality and women’s rights struggles?
  • How do we create more sustainable models of activism? How do we renew and sustain our movements and ourselves (and each other)?

Building effective alliances with and learning from other social movements

  • How do we move beyond women’s movements to identify, build and expand solidarities and collective actions with other social movements – and why should we do so? What is the cost of remaining insular?
  • In working with other social movements, where do we draw the line between strategic compromise and marginalization of a women’s rights agenda?
  • What are other movements doing right? What can we learn from them?
  • What have been some organizational experiences in local, national, regional and global joint work with members of other social movements your organization has had? Tell us about your challenges and achievements.

Mobilizing resources for movement building

  • What does funding for movement building look like? Are there any specific examples of experiences that demonstrate how this might be done in an effective way?
  • How does the way in which money is given by donors support or undermine movement building work? What changes are needed in donor policies and strategies to strengthen women’s movements?
  • What changes do we need to make in how we mobilize resources for movement building work? What are the successful strategies that we can learn from?
  • How do we expand the resources for our movement building and for our work in general?

Measuring the success of movements

  • How do we know when we’ve achieved our goals? What constitutes “success”? And how do we measure our impact?
  • What kinds of evaluation methodologies contribute to movement building? How can we use the data from these methodologies to strengthen our movement building work?
  • How do we capture and evaluate the movement building aspects of our work? What are some examples of innovative indicators and evaluation frameworks?

New directions in movement building

  • What new tools, processes, methodologies and innovations are available for movement building? What are their benefits as well as some of their pitfalls?
  • What new language, terminology and ideas around women’s rights can we build that are accessible, make sense to and motivate larger numbers of women, and will increase our political impact? What are other innovative ways of reaching out to the broader public and having greater societal impact?
  • What are some innovative ways that movements can deal effectively with emerging challenges, such the rise of religious fundamentalisms, the potential abuses of new technologies, the feminization of HIV and AIDS, the emerging environmental crisis, etc.?

The Power of Movements

Submit your proposal online at

Email or call AWID for more information or a
Word version/hard copy of the application form
+1 416 594 3773

JANUARY 28, 2008

Are you a person from a developing country who would need funding in order to attend this or other conferences? Learn about possible limited funding sources for participating in conferences at:

We Can Do learned of this opportunity through contacts at Women Leaders at Mobility International USA (MIUSA). Most of the text in this announcement originates with AWID, except for the paragraph targeted at We Can Do readers.

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

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Funding for Disabled Women NGOs

Posted on 3 October 2007. Filed under: Announcements, Funding, Opportunities, Resources, Women | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

A new resource has become available that may be able to help organizations focused on the rights of disabled women in developing countries seek out the funding they need to do their work.

Finding funds to start or maintain beneficial projects can be an enormous challenge for any NGO (non-governmental organization). Women with disabilities may face a special set of challenges because both women and disabled people may be devalued in their society. Also, due to lack of access to education and training, disabled women may lack awareness of how to locate funding sources or how to apply for funding.

A new report has been released that can instruct NGOs on where and how they can look for funding. Most funders, of course, do not specialize in supporting disability-related organizations. However, some do nevertheless include disability-run NGOs among the organizations they support. And most are willing to consider any well-developed project plan provided that the organization is trust-worthy, has the skills and capacity to carry out the activities they propose, and meets their criteria. It may take several tries to find the right match between funder and project, but for some organizations it can be well worth the effort.

We Can Do received the announcement below via my contacts at Mobility International USA (MIUSA). MIUSA, in turn, received this announcement by way of the Association for Women’s Rights in Development (AWID).

AWID: Where is the money for women’s rights? The 2007 Second Fundher Report “Financial Sustainability for Women’s Movements Worldwide”, Now Online!

Where is the money for women’s rights? The Second Fundher Report “Financial Sustainability for Women’s Movements Worldwide” By Joanna Kerr 2007

AWID is delighted to announce that our 2007 Second Fundher Report, “Financial Sustainability for Women’s Movement’s Worldwide”, is now available online for download either in sections or in its entirety. Building on the achievements/impact of our 1st Fundher Report, “Where is the Money for Women’s Rights? Assessing the resources and the role of
donors in the promotion of women’s rights and the support of women’s rights organizations”, this Report probes deeper into fundamental questions related to resource mobilization and movement-building. How are women’s organizations and movements growing worldwide? Why do we need strong women’s movements and organizations? Where is the money for women’s rights? How should we mobilize new resources to build stronger feminist movements in order to advance women’s rights worldwide?

The Report is second in a series of publications resulting from AWID’s multi-year action research initiative “Where is the Money for Women’s Rights”, set up to not only offer insights and strategies for achieving a significant increase in access to and amount of funding available to support women’ rights work, but also to improve the effectiveness of women’s organizations to raise more funds and utilize them to build stronger movements and progress gender equality globally.

For further information and to download the report, please visit

Seeking funds? Then PLEASE note that We Can Do is NOT a funding agency. Leaving comments here will NOT help you apply for funding. Instead, please download the above report (click on the link) to learn of places where you CAN apply for funding for women’s NGOs. Thank you.


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