Khaleda fights for greater disability inclusion in Bangladesh

Stories | March 1, 2022

Women and girls with disabilities are among the most marginalised in the world.

Women and girls with disabilities often experience double discrimination – facing significant barriers in accessing employment, education and training, health and support services, and proper housing.

CBM Australia 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 through a project focusing on promoting disability rights.

One person to benefit from this project is Khaleda, a woman with a disability who has gained the skills to not only become economically independent, but to fight for the rights of people with disabilities in her community.

Growing up, Khaleda faced many challenges. At just two years of age, she became sick from typhoid – the lack of medical treatment leading to her physical disability. She married at a young age and was left to raise two children. Acknowledging her different needs, Khaleda was invited to participate in the CBM-supported project.

Khaleda used the skills and knowledge she gained from her training on leadership and disability rights to become a strong advocate for people with disabilities in her community. She has built strong relationships with community leaders and service providers, which has enabled her to promote disability inclusion in employment activities and health services, improving the health and wellbeing of people with disabilities.

As a result of her advocacy, people in her community now come to her to learn about what services are available to them and how they can be accessed.

Through this process, Khaleda has been able to support many people with disabilities and marginalised people in her community to access income-generating training opportunities.

In addition to assisting other people, Khaleda has also been able to improve her own circumstances. She has completed training in tailoring, poultry farming and cattle raising through the Department of Youth Development. With this knowledge, and a sewing machine provided by the Department of Youth Development, Khaleda has been able to support herself financially.

Khaleda and the Self-Help Group (SHG) Federation

Khaleda is now the President of the SHG Federation. Her contribution to improving the lives of people with disabilities in her community has been recognised through numerous awards, including the Joyeeta Award – 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.

“I feel very shy when people call me a leader. But to be honest, within me I also feel a spark of happiness for that. I am proud of what I am today,” says Khaleda.

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

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