140 Women with Disabilities
The following letter came from a group of women with
disabilities in Ghana, West Africa. But it could have come from
any community, because all over the world, women—and
especially women with disabilities—are taught not to value
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 against because:
• 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 work place. 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 the community.
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
If a woman grows up with the support of her family,
school and community to live the best life she can, her
feelings of self-worth will be very high, whether or not
she has a disability. But if a woman grows up feeling she is
worth less than others because she has a disability,
she has to work hard to learn to value herself.
This process is never easy, but it can be done
by taking small steps.
The first step is to meet other people.
As other women get to know you, they
will find out that women with and without
disabilities are not really very different from
each other. Each time you go out it will
become easier to meet and talk with others.
Where Women Have No Doctor 2012