How Sadia became a strong advocate for people with disabilities

Stories | December 13, 2021

Did you know that one in seven people around the world live with some form of disability? That’s more than one billion people globally, 80 per cent of whom live in developing countries.

For people with disabilities, like Sadia – a 26-year-old woman from Bangladesh – life can be tough. A fear of disability, negative attitudes, poor legislation, and physically limiting environment can stop people with disabilities from having the same opportunities as everyone else.

CBM Australia however, believes in an inclusive world in which all people with disabilities enjoy their human rights and achieve their full potential. That is why we have been supporting partners in Bangladesh to improve the quality of life of people with disabilities. They are doing this through the promotion of disability rights and inclusion of people with disabilities in services, such as health services, education, livelihood opportunities and protection.

A fear of disability, negative attitudes, poor legislation, and physically limiting environment can stop people with disabilities from having the same opportunities as everyone else.

For Sadia, participating in the CBM supported project has been life changing. After losing mobility in her legs from polio at a young age, Sadia faced many challenges. She was neglected by those closest to her and had to drop out of school because she found it hard and too difficult to get there. Eventually, Sadia stopped communicating with family and friends.

However, after being identified by a project worker, Sadia was invited to attend a month-long workshop on leadership. Although she found learning and interacting with others difficult to begin with, the mental support and motivation she received from the staff allowed her to excel and become “one of the best learners of this training.” 

The leadership training proved to be life-changing for Sadia. It increased her confidence and she started encouraging other people with disabilities in her village to come together to form a Self-Help Group (SHG). With help from CBM’s partner, Sadia is now sharing the things she’s learned from the training with her family and community. Many people now come to get advice on such things as livelihood training opportunities or how to access loans. She has also worked with her SHG to arrange scholarships for child education.

In addition to the leadership course, Sadia has also participated in several other trainings, such tailoring and livestock management. And, after receiving a wheelchair and sewing machine from the project partner, Sadia has been able to set up her own tailoring business, enabling her to become financially independent.

“I do not need to take money from my family members. I can now earn on my own through my tailoring business. I never wanted to be dependent on others”, says Sadia.

The fabulous work Sadia and her SHG have done in promoting the rights of people with disabilities has not gone unnoticed. Not only have her efforts been recognised by the district Women’s Welfare Officer, but she has also been awarded the Joyeeta Award for her outstanding contribution to overcome financial hardship. The annual Joyeeta award is a government initiative that recognises the success and contributions women have made in society in areas such as economics, social development, education, employment, motherhood and prevention of repression. The award has a big impact on raising awareness of women’s empowerment in Bangladesh.

“If people with disability are given proper information and opportunity, they can also lead a dignified life through their capabilities and potentials,” said Sadia.

CBM acknowledges the support of the Australian Government through the Australian NGO Cooperation Program (ANCP)

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