Tentative Analysis of Fundamental Capabilities of Women with Disabilities in Bangladesh

Kanazawa, Mami (2016). 'Tentative Analysis of Fundamental Capabilities of Women with Disabilities in Bangladesh' Paper presented at the annual conference of the HDCA, Tokyo 2016.

abstract   Women with Disabilities (WWD) living not only in Bangladesh but also in developing countries are generally confronted with multi-dimensional disadvantages as women, the disabled, and the poorest of the poor.  Since the 1980’s, women in developing countries have been recognized as one of the major stakeholders in development assistance programs.  They were mainstreamed in development assistance programs through the WID (Women in Development) and GAD (Gender and Development) movements.    However, WWD have been left behind in such movements.  They have not been widely included as stakeholders in these programs, neither as Women, or People with Disabilities, but as recipients of rehabilitation services or charity programs under these programs. They have existed as invisible women in development assistance programs and consequently, their well-being has been ignored. In order to make WWD (e.g. invisible women) visible and mainstreamed in development, capability approach can be adapted.  Amartya Sen says that development can be seen as a process of expanding the real freedom that people enjoy and a goal of development assistance and programs is to expand people’s capabilities (Sen 1999).  Capabilities may be considered a wider range of choices so people with issues such as gender, age, health status, disabilities, income level and social environment can choose the kind of life they want for themselves.  Capability approach does not categorize WWD in different context of lives and disabilities in one category such as “women” or “disabled persons”.  It focuses on diverse ways of thinking or actions about how they want to spend their lives, and the freedom to do so.  The well-being of WWD is expanded when their capabilities are expanded by development assistance programs.   This paper examines capabilities of WWD in Bangladesh based on the results of a survey of Mohila Club, which is a disabled women’s self-help group (SHG) in Bangladesh.  In this survey, 31 WWD respondents in Mohila Club were interviewed with questionnaires.  Based on the results of the survey, some functionings which pertain to capability were identified.  This paper does not focus on unselected functionings by WWD in Bangladesh, but selected functionings, that is capabilities.  In particular, from the interviews with 31 WWD respondents in Mohila Club, their doing and being which they gained are identified as functionings based on either they selected by their own or not.  From this, their capabilities can be evaluated.  As a result, 8 functionings of WWD in Bangladesh are identified.   Out of the identified functionings, the following three are proposed as the most fundamental and important functionings for WWD in Bangladesh.  These functionings are fundamental for expanding choices for their lives which are measured by capabilities: (1) getting income and making their own decisions for their expenditure, (2) going out of their space and meeting people without having feelings of embarrassment and fear, and (3) properly expressing their own feelings and thoughts.  Implementation of efforts for expanding functionings of WWD with development policies and programs could mainstream WWD who have been left behind from development policies and programs.   This paper offers a list of 3 tentative functionings specific to WWD in the context of society in Bangladesh.  Further studies are required for validating the 3 functionings and the possibility of adding alternative funtionings to the list, and for determining fundamental functionings which are common for both disabled and non-disabled women in Bangladesh. Keywords : Bangladesh, Women with Disabilities (WWD), Fundamental Capability, Functionings, development assistance programs.  

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