It is a sad fact that Women with disabilities are more likely to be the victim of economic hardship than Men with disabilities. It is also true, and the root cause of this poverty, that Women with disabilities are more likely to be illiterate and otherwise unskilled having had their access to education hindered in their youth and discriminated against in their later life. This is wrong, and WCC have taken up this challenge.
Literacy rates among women and girls with disabilities are exceptionally low. Along with this, disabled women are excluded from other employable skills as well. The education of a girl with disability is not a priority in many families. They see no value in investing a girl with a disability and as they often say: ‘No one will employ her anyway’.
This creates a culture of dependency where these women and girls are dependent on family members or begging for handouts. Furthermore this financial exclusion from health care. With no means of earning the money for clinical fees these women, and their families, were having to go without. WCC is changing that.
Having seen the need for women to have cash in order to pay their medical bills, amongst other costs, WCC has set up an Economic Empowerment programme. This began with a micro-finance project to enable women to fund their own business ventures. This aimed to reach 300 women and has so far reached over 90 across numerous ventures, from the peanut butter makers next in the site next door, to poultry farming and tailoring.
This is in addition to providing business support with the help of our VSO volunteers who have been able to assist several businesswomen. Previous teams have helped to create business plans for burgeoning businesses and one of current interns is beginning to build up a social media strategy.
The outcome of this has been to empower those whom WCC has come into contact. They are now much closer to being financially independent. They have all opened bank accounts and have adopted saving culture as a result. As such they are now able to pay school fees for their children and any medical costs. This is in addition to showing that a disability does not mean social exclusion, nor even financial dependency.