Gender and disability: A perspective from India

Main Objectives

  • To explore perceptions of disability and its impact on quality of life.
  • To understand barriers, challenges and opportunities experienced by men and women with disabilities in various aspects of social life, education, employment, rights and entitlements, health and economic wellbeing.
  • To explore the participation of men and women with disabilities in development and community-based rehabilitation programmes and to understand any gender-related differences.

Summary

Sightsavers’ National Social Inclusion strategy in India focuses on three core areas: economic empowerment, strengthening Disabled People’s Organisations and helping create an enabling society. Sightsavers India carried out research on gender and disability to provide a better understanding of gender-specific barriers to social inclusion to inform this programme.

The study helps provide a better understanding of the pathways through which men and women with disabilities are excluded from society in the studied areas. Despite significant progress made by the Government of India and multiple Civil Society Organisations on disability inclusion, many people with disabilities continue to experience challenges in accessing public and social services, and women with disabilities continue to be more disadvantaged than men. In line with other qualitative studies, this research showed that people with disabilities face multiple obstacles in their interactions with broader society, but that their experiences vary depending on their age, sex, social and economic background.

Our findings suggest that there is no one-size solution to address these barriers, and that while some are more common or almost universal across different groups and settings, others are more nuanced and context-specific. Further studies of disability involving large population-based samples are desirable to better understand the current levels of inclusion and potential disparities between groups.

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Pratima's story

Pratima from Jabalpur had low vision since birth.

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Savitri's story

35-year-old Savitri Devi from Rajgir, Bihar has orthopaedic disability.

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Sarita's story

19-year-old Sarita is visually impaired and belongs to Hoshangabad district of Madhya Pradesh.