"In Bangladesh to be disabled and a woman is a vicious combination.
Women are like the broom in the house; the cheapest household appliance.
I became disabled when I was six months old and fell ill with Polio. In our village people thought disability was a curse incurred by an earlier generation’s wrongdoing. I believed them. I used to think that maybe my grandpa must have done something wrong.
I kept myself in a shell. The question of my rights was a far cry away.
One day disability activists visited my house.
They told me that there were other disabled people, just like me; that I was entitled to the same rights as my neighbours, and they convinced me to leave my home and meet with them.
For the first time I realised I wasn’t alone.
They gave me capacity building training to build my confidence and skills. I am now a disability activist and President of my district’s Women’s Council. Last year, the Ministry of Women’s Affairs awarded me a prize for my work. But I still see injustice happening every day.
Recently a disabled woman was raped.
The villagers tried to cover it up and the girl was forced out of her home. I took the girl in and we filed a report against the perpetrator.
Before we formed our Women’s Council, disabled people weren’t allowed in the police station. Now, thanks to our work, they give us chairs to sit on.
When we see a disabled woman in danger, we feel that we ourselves are in danger. It could also happen to me. If we do not act to solve our problems then the negative propaganda in our society about disabled women will remain intact.
I dream of a society where there will be no word like ‘disabled.’ Our work will be successful when all disabled people have the identity of a human being."
Let's build movements together.
Millions of disabled people in Africa and Asia are still condemned to a life of poverty and exclusion. Right now, organisations of disability activists are working to fight discrimination and ensure every disabled person gets a fighting chance at living their best life. They urgently need your support.
MEET MORE DISABILITY ACTIVISTS
Minnie is a disability activist working for women's rights in Bangladesh. In an area where disabled women are vulnerable to all forms of violence, Minnie is working to protect and empower her community.
Ignored by her family, Elizabeth was bullied and beaten at school and abused by her neighbours for her disability. Her husband later abandoned her and she was the victim of an attempted kidnapping plot to trade her body parts. Read how she turned her life around through her activism and resilience.
Kaddush is visually impaired. For a long time he was ashamed and isolated, but he now leads an organisation of over 4,000 disabled members fighting for disability equality.