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Exploring the role of networking in promoting social inclusion for disabled people in Bangladesh. Susie Miles, Gertrude Fefoame, Zakia Haque and Diane Mulligan Disability and the majority world: towards a global disability studies Manchester Metropolitan University 7th-8th July, 2011.
Susie Miles,Gertrude Fefoame, Zakia Haque and Diane Mulligan
Disability and the majority world: towards a global disability studies
Manchester Metropolitan University
7th-8th July, 2011
“I had a strong sense that they were all connected to each other. Networking had gone past helping people set up businesses. They knew who to contact and find the people who know how to help them. The key actors in this programme know each other well and can make appropriate referrals” (Mulligan, Sightsavers, 2011).
A blind woman joined a candle-making group. This gave her the courage to travel to Dhaka for the first time. On the way home, she was raped and left at the side of the road by the rickshaw driver. She discovered she was pregnant and the group supported her to have an abortion.
However networks can be exclusionary. Achieving equality, democracy and trust in a network can be difficult – especially in Dhaka where competition for donor funding is fierce.
A 12 year old deaf girl started at the BRAC informal school with the support of the self-help group. One day she was sexually assaulted. Her mother was concerned this would ruin her chances of getting married. The matter was discussed in the self-help group, and the culprit was identified. The self-help group met the village leader, and together they came to the decision to punish the man by making him pay financial compensation (15,000 thaka - £300). The man paid the ‘fine’, and the family was able to use the money to buy a cow for income generating. As a result of taking a stand against the injustice of sexual assaults on young disabled girls, the community respects the self-help group because they can see it is powerful and can achieve results.
The self-help group decided to check the list of landless people, and discovered that no disabled people had been allocated land. They decided to challenge this and have taken their struggle to the district level - in meetings and in writing. They have argued that they are the most vulnerable people in their communities, and are still fighting for access to one acre of land.
NFOWDis the only registered recognised national network of NGOs working in the disability field with 330 members in a country of 60,000+ NGOs.
The majority of research participants reported their awareness raising strategies using the media, and lobbying for rights-based policies and legislation – all claimed credit for progress at policy level
Structures in place to facilitate communication between government and civil society organizations and to provide policy makers with village-level accounts of practice – but government is weak.