The Gender Oppression of Disabled Women in Africa is a Double Jeopardy

September 25, 2011 by gaby7  
Published in Family

Gender is viewed as the relationship between men and women and how this relationship determine the role they play and the life they lead in society at a given time. In most African countries, women in general have been subjected to gender subordination in the areas of division of labor, access to power, decision-making and control over resources.

 Like in any other male dominated society, women with disabilities face double discrimination in society simply because they are women on one hand and disabled at the same time. It has been observed therefore, that women with disability in Africa are relatively worse off than their counter parts, the men with disabilities because much as the men are disabled, they some how, still enjoy the spillover advantages of being men in a society characterized by the male sovereignty.

 Some of the specific problems women with disability suffer by the simple fact of being women and disabled at the same time are found in the following areas;

 Over protection

Violence against disabled women’s rights starts early during childhood, whereby a disabled girl is not given attention by both the parents and the relatives. While other girls her age are allowed to do household chores like washing plates, digging and grinding millet, due to the practice of over protection, the disabled girl is left isolated from her own age mates and family which leaves her dormant, unskilled socially, ignorant and   generally with a dependent syndrome.


Culturally in the African context, parents tend to invest in boys rather than girls in terms of education. Girls have to stay at home assisting their mothers with domestic chores as a preparation for marriage and motherhood at the expense of her education. When it comes to case of Education fro the disabled girl child, most parents consider this a bad investment because they don’t believe anything good can come out of a disabled girl child. Secondly, most schools don’t cater for the specific education needs of children with disabilities and besides, there are very few teachers with sign language skills or the techniques of using Braille, hence, parents deny these children education on the unjustified pretext of this lack of special education services for their disabled girl child.

 Economic Status

Economically, generally women in Africa suffer discrimination in economic circumstances whereby they are culturally denied the right to property, ownership and control. For instance, women have no rights over land, even if they are the ones who till it for productive purposes. According to the Internationalist Women Tribunal, women generally contribute 66% of the hours worked in the developing world, but earn only 10% of the world’s income and own only 1% of the world’s property. If this scenario can be this bad for able bodied women, then you can only imagine how much percentage the disabled woman gets out of this 1%! It doesn’t therefore appear surprising that the disabled woman is among the poorest of the poor in any given African society.

 Sexual abuse

On matters of sexual abuse, it has got to be noted that violence against women’s rights is also characterized by the stigma associated with reporting such violence. For instance, very few cases of rape are reported because of the heavy stigma and shame attached to the act on one hand and the absence of proper institutional channels available to women to air out their grievances.  When it comes to disabled women, many are often raped because men take advantage of their disabilities or physical limitations to pounce on them. Yet when such rapes have taken place, the disabled women suffer quietly because they fear the shame that comes with reporting rape.The matter becomes even grimmer if the disabled woman becomes pregnant as a result of such a sexual violence. Usually she is blamed for being loose with men and her parents may even reject her. The man responsible often denies the responsibility for the pregnancy and she is forced to fend for the unplanned baby single handedly under very difficult conditions.

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4 Responses to “The Gender Oppression of Disabled Women in Africa is a Double Jeopardy”
  1. FX777222999 Says:

    Very good article, thanks for sharing.

  2. Rosettaartist1 Says:


  3. Ivan Says:

    Great facts. We should rethink of it. Very nice post.

  4. Raj the Tora Says:

    Any differently abled person deserve equal or even more equal rights than those who are not so!

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