10 chapter 1: Disability and the community
The development workers
come to the villages, they
come with their projects. And
they work with the women
there, all the women there.
And the disabled woman…
she will be raising a family,
too. They will put in the water
projects that are not accessible
to the disabled woman. And
she will also want to draw the
water. And they do not think
about it at all.
— From a Zimbabwean
woman attending the 3rd
World Conference on Women,
Disabled women have a right to the
removal of social and physical barriers.
Causes of disability
Some women have been disabled since birth. Some women become more disabled over
time. Some women become disabled suddenly, because of an accident or disease.
It is not possible to prevent all impairments. Some babies form differently inside
the womb and no one knows why.
But many disabilities in babies are caused by harmful conditions of women’s
lives. If women can get enough nutritious food to eat, can protect themselves from
work with toxic chemicals, and can get good health care, including care at the time
of childbirth, then many disabilities could be prevented.
Poverty and malnutrition
Poverty is one of the biggest causes of disability. Poor
people are most vulnerable to disability because they
are forced to live and work in unsafe environments
with poor sanitation, crowded living conditions, and
with little access to education, clean water, or enough
good food. This makes diseases such as tuberculosis
and polio—and the severe disabilities they cause—
much more common because diseases get passed from
one person to another more easily.
A Health Handbook for Women with Disabilities 2007