Women with disabilities throughout the world often suffer from a “triple” discrimination: that of having a disability, of living in poverty, and of being female. Women with disabilities, especially in developing countries, are one of the most marginalized groups in the world.

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Because of a lack of accessible schools, fear for women’s safety or simple neglect, many women with disabilities do not attend school or vocational training, leaving them unable to support themselves financially. Women with disabilities face mass discrimination because they cannot marry or work; many countries do not recognize the right of a woman with disability to have a family or inherit property.

The isolation that surrounds many women with disabilities is often  more debilitating than the actual disability itself – it considerably lowers a woman’s self esteem and prevents her from seeking medical attention, rehabilitation services, and education or vocational training. Finally women with disabilities are more vulnerable to physical and/or sexual abuse, due to the lack of sexual education they receive, having been portrayed as “sexless”.

Project: Building the Capacity of Women with Disabilities in India

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In partnership with member Shanta Memorial Rehabilitation Centre (SMRC), RI started working in 2007 towards the inclusion of women with disabilities into all social, political and economic development through Building the Capacity of Women with Disabilities in India. This program aimed at generating economic empowerment through vocational training and microenterprise, and to promote the right to health and basic health care practices among women with disabilities.

Undertaken in the four rural/indigenous Indian States of Orissa, Chhatisgarh, Andhra Pradesh and West Bengal, the project assisted women with disabilities in India by:

  • Providing them with advocacy and leadership training;
  • Conducting a needs assessments and skills training in the area of information and communications technology (ICT);
  • Assisting them in obtaining loans and implementing initiatives under a Government micro-credit program that includes health micro-insurance;
  • Integrating the women with disabilities into community structures through their participation in village self-help groups;
  • Creating a virtual network in each state among women with disabilities to exchange information on health issues;
  • Promoting access to the Government’s Reproductive Health Care program through inclusion in health awareness programs.

The project was funded with grants from the Austrian Ministry of Labour, Social Affairs and Consumer Protection and the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UN DESA).  

RI Fact Sheet:Woman and Disability