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close this bookSustainable Development and Persons with Disabilities: The Process of Self-Empowerment (ADF, 1995, 117 p.)
close this folderSection II: Building economic self-reliance
close this folderChapter 5: Building economic self-reliance
View the documentThe importance of self-reliance
View the documentEmployment options for PWDs
View the documentGroup versus individually designed and managed IGPs
View the documentIGPs at the crossroads of gender and class
View the documentAction guidelines

IGPs at the crossroads of gender and class

One disabled woman participant at the Entebbe Workshop suggested that often a distinction is made between an Income Generating Project (IGP) and Income Generating Activities (IGA). The latter are normally for the women. They are "low level" activities, and normally confined to the traditional bread-making, sewing and crocheting type of work. When an activity becomes "serious" and involves "high technology" or "up market" commodity production, they tend to gravitate towards men.

This is an important distinction. Whatever the linguistic merits of the distinction, the point is that women do get discriminated against in terms of securing the resources for projects or activities that are on the "up market" or involving "high technology." Women, generally, are discriminated against in our societies; the disabled women (especially, the poor amongst them) even more so.

Besides gender, there is an important class dimension to disability.

Nelson Isiko: "There are three classes of disabled people - the rich, the poor, and the middle class. The first two are not present in this workshop; the first because they do not care for the disabled, and do not even regard themselves as disabled, the second because they are too much on the margins of society. We here are mostly from the middle class." (Closing speech at the Entebbe Workshop)

Isiko's observation is reflected also in a study carried out in Zimbabwe by the ILO. An ILO publication entitled, "Listen to the People," has this to say:

Two findings... may be worth reporting as symptomatic. Wherever disabled people are engaged in meaningful or gainful activities they are respected members of the community and the disability loses its stigma. Second, the affiliation of disabled people to a certain social group or class is more important in the assessment of the disability than the disability itself. The rich and well educated are believed to succeed in life irrespective of their disability. When disability is combined with poverty and lack of education, the prognosis for success is bleak. 1

So the conclusion of this discussion is that whenever planning for IGPs, the PWDs must be self-conscious about the circumstances of class and gender, and related social prejudices, myths and biases which hamper communication not only between the disabled people and the able bodied, but also amongst the PWDs themselves.