Empowering Women with Disabilities in Bangladesh

WILD Bangladesh delegates group holding banner
Lisi Desai and participants of the Women’s Institute on Leadership and Disability - Bangladesh training program proudly hold a banner stating, “Lets change the World!” This intensive one day training aimed to do just that.

Bringing together 21 women with diverse disabilities in the capital of Bangladesh, Ms. Desai shared leadership principles and practical skills to empower women with disabilities and build a network for disability advocacy. Each participant was selected based on her commitment to pursuing higher education and leadership positions in the community.  

In Bangladesh, the belief still remains that women with disabilities should stay sheltered in their homes and many young women therefore have limited access to and awareness of educational and community resources.

With this in mind, Lisi Desai created a workshop to both educate and empower. During the first half of the day, Ms. Desai introduced principles learned through MIUSA’s U.S.-based Women’s Institute on Leadership and Disability (WILD) program and action planning. Following these in-depth workshops, the women participated in hands-on self-defense training and a trip to Dhaka University. This approach carried every lesson the women learned directly into the community, instilling in them a sense of pride and demonstrating the power of equal access.

“Women with disabilities have every right like others to access every place on earth wherever they want to be. This is their life and they have to lead and enjoy it by every possible way.” - Lisi Desai, WILD-Bangladesh Trainer

The women sat in a circle on the lawn of the University of Dhaka, laughing and enjoying the company of their fellow activists and the act of awareness raising.

Each participant created an action plan, outlining how they will use their skills to affect change. In addition, the week following the training the WILD-Bangladesh women were invited to an event at the American Center to present these plans discussed during the training. 

The cross-disability training event was a unique opportunity for women leaders with disabilities from across organizations in Bangladesh to come together and highlight the importance of inclusive programs, as a united front.

WILD-Bangladesh was a follow-on activity of the WILD 2016 program supported by a WILD Seed Grant. Learn more about the WILD Seed Grants program in the Related Resources section.