Leadership programme for women with disabilities
- Women Leadership Programme
- Light for the World Austria
- Country of Implementation
- Asia & Pacific
- Southeast Asia
- Start Year
- First published
“The programme enables me to speak up to authorities to pay attention to the most vulnerable groups, especially women with disabilities.” Leadership program graduate
Light for the World, a global disability and development NGO working in low-income communities, has created a leadership programme for women with disabilities in Cambodia. The selected participants attend workshops where they learn to self-advocate and empower others, after which they implement and run their own small projects to practice their learnings. To date, 24 women have completed the programme, with 12 having since received formal leadership positions or promotions. A further 470 women with disabilities have been reached via the small projects.
Addressing the unique issues and concerns of women with disabilities requires their participation in political and other venues that affect access to their rights, yet they are often not involved.
Solution, Innovation and Impact
Women with disabilities from throughout Cambodia are selected to take part in a leadership training programme consisting of five workshops over a period of two years, whereby all the women are brought together in Phnom Penh to learn about leadership skills and to share their experiences. In addition, participants are assisted in applying for a grant of up to $1,200 for their own self-designed small projects, which they then run, allowing them to practice the leadership skills they have acquired. Participation is key to the whole programme, for example participants identify the skills they want to learn, which forms the basis of the workshops. Other participative elements include the small projects which are designed to support women in the participants’ own communities, such as providing training on sexual and reproductive health and rights, and supporting children with intellectual disabilities to go to school. The first 24 women who were trained through the programme have demonstrated increases in skills, ability to implement projects, recognition as leaders in their community, and an increase in self-esteem. In addition, 12 of the women have also received formal positions within disability organizations or have been promoted within their current organization.
Funding, Outlook and Transferability
The programme requires outside funding for the trainers, mentors, workshops, and the small project grants. Light for the World has contributed the majority of the core funding, but in addition the Dutch television programme “EO Metterdaad” aired the leadership programme, which led to approximately €75,000 being donated by viewers. The first group of women has decided to develop a network that aims to register itself as the “Women with Disabilities Leadership and Advocacy Network,” and they will also act as mentors to the next group of 25 women to take the course. In terms of transferability, Light for the World notes the potential for the practice to be replicated to other countries via a franchise system.
THE STORY OF HUN SREYNAK, A USER OF THE LEADERSHIP SKILLS FOR WOMEN WITH DISABILITIES PROGRAMME
“We are helped, and we help other women with disabilities.”
My name is Hun Sreynak and I contracted polio at the age of three. I was not able to walk, and when I wanted to start attending school my parents told me I could not do so because of my disability. So I spent a whole year teaching myself to walk so I could attend school. I faced discrimination in many ways during my school years, and especially at university where I had to crawl up the stairs to class on the third and fifth floors. This is the situation for many people with disabilities in Cambodia – they face discrimination in all stages of life, especially women. In 2016, I applied and got accepted to Light for the World’s Leadership Skills for Women with Disabilities programme. Here I met many women with different types of disabilities, and I learned that I was not alone! We all had good times together and enjoyed the training. We are helped, and we help other women with disabilities through setting up our own projects. In 2017, my new leadership skills were acknowledged as I formally joined Light for the World as a Programme Liaison Officer; and in 2018, I received a scholarship for a Master’s programme in Disability Studies in Kuala Lumpur.