The upcoming international women day’s gives scholars, practitioners and other public policy stakeholders to ask ourselves the pertinent question.
Has Kenya done well in advancing the rights of women and girls with disabilities?
Has Kenya broken the barriers of inclusion of women with disabilities?
Has the disability space been accommodative of women with disabilities?
As a public scholar I join in the reflection of the Kenyan disability public space.
Absolutely not, this is one of the debates which the stakeholders in the disability sector need to engage.
Are women with disabilities actively engaged?
I live that to other analysts. As a matter of principle, I say representation matters.
On the other hand, I thank the president of Kenya having appointed Madam MUkhobe at the highest decision-making organ in the country since 2013.
Where is the Data and statistics of the disabled?
Numbers don’t lie.
Globally disabled persons are at 15 %.
3.8 of the are persons with moderate to severe impairment.
5.1 % of the children with disabilities are below the age of 14.
0.7 % have severe functional impairment.
19 % are women with disabilities world report 2011.
To put matters into perspective, In the latest 2020 national council of population report has no data of women or girls with disabilities.
Does this mean that women and girls with disabilities do not get pregnant?
Are women and girls with disabilities not sexually active?
Different media channels on a weekly basis in Kenya have been reporting of how women and girls with disabilities have been experiencing gender-based violence in the hands of family members or even under the institutions mint to support them.
I believe This is another big blow to disabled persons in Kenya after the release of Kenya bureau of statistics 2019 census report. Which in essence reduced the data of disabled Kenyans.
Will disability sector continue with the same old ways of addressing this challenge?
Will the disability sector move out of board rooms and actualize the dreams of girls and women with disabilities?
Does the national council of population have a disability mainstreaming committee?
The lack of disability desegregated data will obviously affect planning and service delivery for girls, boys, men and women with disabilities.
In other words, the national council of population affirms that women and girls with disabilities have never experienced gender-based violence nor gotten pregnant.
Let me remind the disability stakeholders women with disabilities are more likely to experience sexual violence than women without disabilities.
This is also coupled with disabled Kenyans who face barriers to accessing services in both public and private sectors.
Most disability policy stakeholders know the barriers that disabled Kenyans face but have refused to actualize them.
Disabled Kenyans persons have been left chanting in the social media as a tool of advocacy.
Am not surprised to note in March 4th, 2020 a person with physical impairment was begging for a wheelchair on in one of the social media platforms.
Which system works for disabled Kenyans?
Will the Big four agenda be realized for disabled persons?
When will Kenya declare begging an economic enterprise for disabled persons since the constitution provisions aren’t working for disabled Kenyans?
several studies show Women and girls living with disabilities often face additional marginalization in their experiences of abuse as well as specific barriers to accessing services, due to:
• economic and/or physical dependence on the abuser, which challenges efforts to escape (particularly within family and sometimes institutional set ups. Several research in Kenya have indicated women with disabilities have suffered from forms of abuse specific to women living with disabilities (e.g. withholding of right medications, like the case of national children council exposed by NTV Kenya in 2019.
research done by women with disabilities organizations in Kenya show denial of assistive devices is also rampant.
Additionally, there is also refusal to provide personal care), which are less documented and may not be explicit within legal definitions of abuse.
For instance, Menstrual Health in Kenya: Landscape Analysis published in May 2016 never showed the extent to which women and girls with disabilities can’t access sanitary pads.
As Well lack of or limitations in physical accessibility of venues for women with disabilities still remains one of the barriers.
Furthermore, perceptions by service providers like health continue to plague the system in place.
This is because many believe that they cannot provide services for women with disabilities given their resource or capacity limitations. Mainstream women organizations and women service providers have not entrenched any inclusive measures of engaging or consulting women with disabilities.
In other words, lack of programming informed by and implemented in consultation with Kenyan women with disabilities or misinterpretation of their needs in escaping and overcoming the abuse they have experienced. Thus, having gaps in collaboration between disability organizations and service providers supporting survivors, as well as assumptions by each group that survivors are served by the other. A study by Kenya national human rights commission in 2015 indicated low sensitivity among law enforcement personnel or other service providers, who may not inquire about abuse by caretakers, or disregard reports from women with visual, speech/communication or motor coordination disabilities (e.g. cerebral palsy), assuming they are intoxicated or are not serious in their claims. The KAIH who have been working closely in the legal apparatus affirm that biases among judicial personnel and courts is evidently seen.
For instance, cases of provision of preferential treatment to the abuser in child custody due to the victim’s disability (
What can disability sector and stakeholders do to change the narrative?
Develop Strategies and tools to prevent violence against women with disability. E.g. have inclusive training tools on gender violence.
Ensure collection of data collected is gender, age and disability desegregated in reporting and monitoring
Share best practices of gender and disability equitable practice
develop inclusive Referral system and services which can assist in responding to women with disability who experience violence
have more role models among women with disabilities.
Collaborative initiatives with the mainstream women organizations
list end support men with and without disabilities who are supporting reduction of gender-based violence initiatives.
Conduct inclusive training to service providers in both health and law enforcing agencies.
Ensure engagement and meanful consultation with women and girls with disabilities from rural and urban set up.
This will actualize the slogan not living any one behind as the sustainable development goals advocate.
global commitments 2018.
The truth of the matter is Kenya is known to have progressive disability
related laws and policies but poor implementation is the order of the day.
As a result the dire state of affairs of women with disabilities is not due to lack of new ideas. The biggest problem is lack of capacity to take up and implement the new ideas in existing policy documents.
The views expressed here are for the author and do not represent any agency or organization.
Mugambi Paul is a public policy, diversity, inclusion and sustainability expert.