Disability: How can we be more inclusive?

by Sharon
24 September 2016
24 September 2016

Feedback from the recent SaveAct Annual Partners’ Meeting held in Pietermaritzburg suggested that participants found the issue of disability and how to facilitate greater inclusion of disabled people in savings group to be among some of the most interesting items under discussion.

“In our group work we had people who shared personal stories of how disability is affecting them in a very direct way. It really brought it home, that this is an issue that is all around us, and it is very real,” said SaveAct executive director Anton Krone.

Participants discussed the challenges presented by specific disabilities such as blindness, intellectual and physical disability, and interventions that might facilitate the full involvement of all disabled people.

Against the backdrop of strong commitment from all partners and SaveAct to embrace the issue of disability, it was agreed that staff would start to systematically track the number of disabled members in savings and credit groups as one indicator of inclusivity.

According to a presentation by CREATE managing director Sarah Rule, The economic empowerment of people with a disability is recognised as the key to independent living and social participation.

Create is a Pietermaritzburg-based NGO focused on advocacy for disability rights and community-based rehabilitation.

Drawing points from the World Report on Disability 2011 by the World Bank and WHO, Rule said that without addressing disability, the Millennium Development Goals would not be achieved. Highlighting the importance of inclusion, she said the long-term economic advantages of including people with a disability far outweigh the initial, often one-off costs of inclusion.

Including people with a disability ensures the most marginalised are reached and was therefore good development practice, she said.

Other statistics, drawn from the World Report on Disability produced in 2011 by the World Bank and WHO, include the following:

  • 20% of people living in poverty in developing countries have a disability
  • People with a disability make up 15% of the world’s population
  • 20 million women a year acquire a disability as a consequence of pregnancy and childbirth, mainly due to poor birth practices and lack of access to appropriate health care services;
  • Children with an intellectual or sensory disability are the least likely group to attend school.

Rule argued at the meeting for the need to ensure within the groups that disabled people felt included and were supported by relevant interventions and materials. “If you are including disabled people in savings groups, what interventions are needed to ensure they feel like an equal partner? Without this support they can feel further disempowered,” she said.

Create is a Pietermaritzburg-based NGO focused on advocacy for disability rights and community-based rehabilitation.

According to Rule, both disability-specific initiatives and mainstreaming initiatives were required to ensure the effective inclusion of disabled people and the disability perspective.

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