International Women's Day 2004

Since 1975, March 8 has been celebrated as International Women’s Day, "WOMEN & HIV/AIDS" the theme of International Women's Day this year."


Women with Disabilities

Bangladesh is a developing country of South Asian Region, having more than 130 million population with about 6.9 million women with disabilities. According to our constitution there are equal rights (Constitution: paragraph-27-44) for men and women. Women with disabilities are not out of those rights and Bangladesh is also following CEDAW convention with some reservation. Women with disabilities are needed special attention from each and every platform. But it is totally ignored by Government and Non-government sector, particularly who are actively involved with gender equity and women's movement.

Situation analysis:

Situation of WWDs in Bangladesh is in grief. Most of the time women with disabilities are neglected from their family members as well as society. Even the human rights commission does not report the issue in the country. We have 20 years experience on women's movement but we did not find any inclusion of them in the movement. The Ministry of Women & Children Affairs is only working for women and children, but still they did not take any initiative or development project, which can help for the development of WWDs. In Bangladesh we have a disability welfare act and an anti discriminatory law for women & children repression but there is no provision for protecting the rights of the women with disabilities. In September 1995 the fourth women's conference was held at Beijing and undertook a declaration platform for action. Bangladesh government ratified it without any condition. For PFN implementation it requested the members to formulate a national work plan. Bangladesh govt. formed a committee with cooperation of 15 ministries, the committee deeply considered 12 issues such as Women and Poverty, Economics, Education and Training, Health, Violence against women, Environment, Mass Communication, Human rights, Women empowerment, Infrastructure development and girl child but unfortunately women with disabilities issue is not included with it. We have a national gender policy but there is no reflection is seen in education, employment and legal protection and reproductive health.

Social discrimination: For a women and girls with disabilities start their life with discrimination at home as well as society. Their needs are not considered for equal opportunity. In a study it has observed that 92% of the woman with disabilities (WWD) are socially or sexually abused within the age of 18. Only 23% women with disabilities know that they have some rights others don't have any knowledge about their human rights or equal rights.

Education and WWDs: Facilities are very limited and there are only a small number of WWD's are getting education through special education, vocational training and home based education. Till disability is a barrier to education, for women with disability it is just double embarrassing situation for them because of attitude, accessibility and also social security. The highest enrollment we found in our working area is 9.7% in regular school. Where boys with disability is 19.9%. Because of our education policy is not protected and promote their education rights and not create any opportunity for WWD's education.

Economic position and WWDs

Before explaining any things I would like to show our budgetary picture on gender development in Bangladesh. It is to be more cleared if we observe the development budget for the women and compare with the WWDs.

Fiscal year No. of projects taken by Govt. Project for women development Project have influence on women with disability
99-2000 1379 170 (13%) 00
2000-01 1299 246 (15%) 00

For economical empowerment we think it should be done in national policy level but for the rights of women with disabilities still we did not find any national policy for their employment or job creation.

Health status of the WWD's:

Gender Health is a focusing issue in Bangladesh but for WWDs three is no separate or inclusive initiative for them. It is same for reproductive health. But a woman with disability needs special attention during her pregnancy or illness. Still we don't have any provision in our govt hospital or privet hospital for providing necessary health care for Women with disabilities, as they required. If we check the recent health situation of Bangladesh then it would be easy to understand the situation for the WWD's.

Growth rate 1.6
Death in everyday due to malnutrition 600
Chronic malnutrition 50% of the women population
Anemia 50% of the women population
Getting equal food 35% women with disability
Cost use for health treatment 18BDT

It is to be mentioned here that the where the disparity in calorie between male & female of about 12% and where the allocation of education is two-third more for the male as a whole, under the above scenario how it possible for a women with disabilities for getting necessary health support form our existing facility from Govt. and non govt. level!

Training for expertise development:

For mainstreaming of WWDs economical development and social acceptance is very important. For this issue education and training might be played a substantial role. But the scope of training is about 20.63% and it is also in urban areas. Women and Children Affairs Ministry are not still incorporated WWDs in their existing training programme and there are some Trainings in Social welfare Ministries but it is very limited. Access to economic initiatives and also job market is comparatively more limited and almost more difficult for women with disabilities. If their skill can develop only their living condition would be boost up and they would have some possibilities in job market. But at present we will not able to get all together more then 500 women with disabilities who have good education with necessary skill training due to lack of scope as well as opportunity.


  • Should be involved WWD's in the mainstreaming gender movement & arrange necessary correction of existing gender policy and legislation.

  • Information exchange to increase more social integration of the WWD's in national development.

  • For economic development have to take initiatives community based sustainable vocational training programme or agro-based income generating activities.

  • Inclusive education in rural level has to increase and extra financial support for the education of the WWD's.

  • Govt. has to more emphases on reproductive health care for WWD's

  • Special initiatives to be undertaken by the Govt. and NGOs which encourage WWDs for their education.

  • Initiatives have to be undertaken for raising their awareness on Human Rights and gender issues

Women with disabilities are deprived form their fundamental rights. They are considered as double disadvantaged in the society. Women with disabilities in Bangladesh is very neglected and discriminated. In order to improve the situation Govt. and Non-govt. organisation will have to work jointly for changing the situation. For mainstreaming of the development of the WWD's necessary steps to be undertaken and incorporated the issues as development issue. A comprehensive work should be started with budgetary allocation in the national budget.

Source: UN ESCAP Workshop on Women and Disability: Promoting Full Participation of Women with Disabilities in the Process of Elaboration on an International Convention to Promote and Protect the Rights and Dignity of Persons with Disabilities
18-22 August 2003, Bangkok, Thailand


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