Women and Girls with Disabilities-WGDs are often discriminated against, excluded from employment and economic opportunities, and are among the poorest in their communities. They live in conditions of long-term poverty and lack access to basic services such as education, employment and healthcare. The lack of access to vital services and programs contributes to their marginalization and exclusion, perpetuating a cycle of poverty.
Hector, a student from State University New York with an interest of working with vulnerable women applied to carry out an internship in a bid to support Women and Girls with Disabilities. He worked with a host organization called Integrated Disabled Women Activities(IDIWA).
IDIWA is an indigenous voluntary, not for profit non-Governmental organization established in 2000 by women of different disability categories including physical and sensory disabilities together with parents of children with disabilities from Iganga District. The establishment of IDIWA came out of realization that women and girls with disabilities face heightened discrimination on account of gender and disability.
With support from IDIWA and FSD Staff, Hector carried out community assessment to ascertain the challenges that the disabled women were facing. Among the challenges identified from the assessment include: WGDs always being left behind in involvement the social, economic community decision making processes that affect their lives and limited capital to start business projects to sustain their livelihoods. Even if they try to put together the meagre resources available, they do not have relevant entrepreneur business skills to sustain their projects.
To address these challenges, Hector together with staff at IDIWA organized business training workshops to empower a women group advocating for disability inclusive business with entrepreneurial skills. The training covered aspects such as marketing both physical and digital, buying and costing, record keeping, separating business from family saving and credit management and business planning.
This training greatly improved the lives of the women who took part in the project. Through these activities, the women were motivated to apply the business skills learnt in the current business they are pursuing. Among these was to have their business registered by the local government so that they can be more organized to easily access economic opportunities from the government. They also grew confidence to challenge the stigma of women with disabilities, and begin promoting their business given the new set of skills learned.