- GS-1: Women’s issues and Social Empowerment.
- GS-2: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.
Women with disabilities
Context: Many women in general and those with disabilities in particular have to face poverty, poor health conditions, little or no income, lower education levels and isolation.
With resources being scarce, women usually get the short end of the stick, more so if they suffer from some form of disability.
Issues faced during Pandemic times
- Access to essential items: Those with locomotor disabilities were not able to visit stores to access food and the virus acted as an impediment to getting delivery of essential services.
- Access to Arogya Setu App: Many with sight disabilities were not able to access the Aarogya Setu app as it does not factor in their requirements.
- Access to Digital Payments: Many payment apps are not accessible to the visually challenged and many online courses too are not tailored to their needs.
- Access to Digital Work Platforms: While work from home could be to the advantage of women with disabilities, there are several challenges in being able to access video calls and voice calls and, of course, there is lack of connectivity in many areas.
- Access to Support: Social distancing and fear of the virus has led to many of them losing whatever little physical support they had in the form of attendants. The pandemic has also curtailed the possibilities of many disabled women being able to get physical and psychological support.
- Vulnerable to Abuse: Trapped at home, they are also vulnerable to abuse and face barriers in being able to register a complaint with the police or bring this to the notice of a civil society organisation.
- Create a database of those with disabilities, especially of female gender. This will help understand their medical needs and tweak schemes accordingly
- Leveraging grassroots system: Government could use its robust grassroots systems with its health workers to create awareness in families about the need to not compromise on health and education for women with disabilities.
- Inclusive Skill training: Skill development, one of the flagship programmes of the government, should include courses and training specifically for women who are disabled in consultation with them.
- Political Participation: Some of these women should be inducted into local decision-making bodies so that they can participate in processes, which build their skills.
- Disability friendly Grievance Redressal System: Set up a functioning telephone network, accessible to women with disabilities so that they can convey their needs to a relevant person in the local governance system.
- Women with disabilities have been on the margins for far too long.
- The pandemic has been particularly cruel to them but also offers an opportunity to enable them to become more independent and productive if the government makes a concerted effort.