52 chapter 3: Mental health
Attitudes about disability
Communities may also have lower
expectations for what girls and women
with disabilities can accomplish in
life. Having learned they have little to
hope for, women with disabilities tend
to value themselves less. They often
lack the self-confidence to advocate for
change in the community.
When you grow up
surrounded by people
who love you but who
do not believe you
are capable of much,
you start to believe
that yourself. Low
expectations from people
you love and trust hurt
your feelings about
Discrimination, stress, and self-esteem
Our Association was formed in 1989 by women with disabilities to help
promote the welfare of the woman with a disability. We have 21 members
with various disabilities (sight, hearing, speech, and movement). We hold a
meeting once a month to talk about our problems and to try to find solutions.
We all agree that women with
disabilities are often discriminated
• we are women.
• we have disabilities.
• we are mostly poor.
We are rejected as suitable marriage partners or regarded as the ‘wrong’
image in the workplace. Girls and women with disabilities are often not able
to get an education, even when education is available. For example, even in
special schools for children with disabilities, boys usually receive priority.
We are unlikely to receive training for any kind of work. We experience
abuse—physically, emotionally, and sexually. Unlike all men and women
without disabilities, we are seldom allowed to make decisions at home or in
But for each of us in the Association, the biggest problem is lack of self-
esteem. We are taught by society not to value ourselves. We are generally
considered to be incapable of keeping a man and bearing children, and
unable to do meaningful work. Therefore we are considered worthless. Even
our extended families only want us if we prove valuable to them.
—Dormaa Ahenkro, Ghana
A Health Handbook for Women with Disabilities 2007