The community must value caregivers 315
The community must value caregivers
Both women with disabilities and caregivers—whether they are family members or
paid assistants, whether they are men, women, or children—are valuable members
of our communities. They need to be supported in real and warm relationships
within the families and communities where we live, work, and share our joys and
suffering. But like most domestic work, assisting women with disabilities is seldom
valued, appreciated, or seen as important. Sometimes a helper feels that even the
disabled woman herself takes the assistance for granted!
Women as caregivers
Most often, women and girls assist family
members who are sick or have a disability.
And they do this while they continue to
do their other work at home and in the
community. For many women, their daily
work begins before dawn and is not done
until late in the day. When women are also
helping care for another person, they have
even more work to do.
There’s too much to do. As
soon as I send the children
to school, I must give Mary
a bath. And then I have to
wash our clothes and cook
a meal. When will I have
time to plant the cassava?
I never finish everything.
Children as caregivers
It is easy to forget that children—especially daughters who
assist their mothers—have their own needs. Children need
to spend time with other children, to learn and to play.
Instead of always relying on their daughters, mothers
with disabilities can also get help from other adults. If
the mother can explain to everyone the help she needs,
perhaps the entire family can work together as a team to
Men as caregivers
Sometimes it is the man or boy in a family who is the caregiver for a wife, sister,
or mother. If so, he may need help from other women in the family, as well as the
person he is assisting, to understand why life for a woman with a disability might
be different than it is for a man. The differences between male and female bodies
are important, but the differences in the ways men and women are raised and
treated in the family and community are even more important.
A Health Handbook for Women with Disabilities 2007