Gender and Disability Training Manual

By L Rambiyawo


It is an indisputable fact that people with disabilities across the globe lack access to fundamental rights and freedoms that other people in society take for granted.  This lack of access is all-encompassing and runs across the entire social, economic and cultural spectrum of human endeavour, from education, employment, health, transportation, information, accommodation, sports and recreation …..the list is endless.

The situation is even worse for women with disabilities, whose marginalization from society’s social, economic and cultural process is doubly impacted upon by both their disability status and their womanhood.  Their marginalization and social exclusion is therefore more acute than that of women without disabilities.   The marginalization and social exclusion of women reaches its lowest point in developing countries, where research on gender patterns in relation to disability indicates that:

  • poverty hits harder on women and girls due to patriarchal property ownership


  • aid is less likely to reach women and girls who are less able to compete in situations of scarcity
  • women with disabilities  are more vulnerable to domestic violence

disabled girls are likely to find their access to education even more limited than girls in general

  • women disabled by war have few resources to survive

women with disabilities who are sexually abused are likely to have few if any social supports or options

  • women with disabilities  are less likely to be accepted as refugees by industrially-advanced countries (eg Australia prohibits the immigration of people with disabilities).

(Abu-Habib 1997; Meekosha and Dowse 1997; Snyder 1999; Charowa 2002)

Against such a background, and in view of the fact that the individual is the heart and driving force of any development process, this manual recognizes the primacy of women with disabilities as pivotal change agents in the gender and disability mainstreaming process.  In order for transformative gender and disability mainstreaming to take place, women with disabilities have to own the process, and this starts with gender and disability mainstreaming training designed to equip Disabled Persons Organisations representatives with the skills and competences that will enable them to reach out to other DPOs, women organizations, civil society, policy makers, women and women with disabilities, people with disabilities and the society at large and advocate effectively for meaningful and effective gender and disability mainstreaming practice.

While the manual is primary targeted at women with disabilities in disability organizations and gender and disability focal points in line ministries and government agencies, it espouses a twin track approach to issues of gender and disability equality ; mainstreaming of gender and disability perspectives into society’s multifaceted developmental activities, coupled with targeted capacity building of women with disabilities and DPOs to enable them to carry out transformative gender and disability mainstreaming.


Although each of the five modules that make up the Gender and Disability Training Manual has its own specific objectives, the Training Manual has a number of overarching objectives which can be summarized as follows:

  1. to provide the trainer with targeted information enabling him /her to train representatives of DPOs as experts in mainstreaming disability and gender.
  2. To increase the knowledge and capacities of the trained disability and gender representatives to become competent change agents within their organizations, government ministries and departments.
  3. Generate impetus for a holistic, integrated and highly interactive training that builds a core set of knowledge, skills and attitudes among change agents.

Objectives are guided by the principle that participants should be availed with skills that are of relevance and of immediate use in their daily work and from which key learning points can be drawn. The objectives will also dictate the selection of the training methodology to be used.

Who will use the Manual?

As has already been mentioned, this training manual is targeted primarily at women with disabilities who are essentially gender and disability representative in the various DPOs they belong to. This training can be conducted at various levels, as outlined below:

Training of Facilitators

Training of Trainers

Community level training.

However,  this manual is mindful that without a coherent and comprehensive framework for guiding mainstreaming within the different sectors and ministries involved in development, the goal of gender and disability equality and equity will not be achieved.

In view of this, identified disability focal points within government ministries and government agencies whose support is critical to the successful implementation of gender and disability mainstreaming will find the manual an invaluable training tool which will enable them to implement gender and disability mainstreaming within their specific sectors.

The nation’s public and private institutions, and the numerous nongovernmental organisations  that are engaged in all manner of developmental work, will find the manual useful in ensuring workplace mainstreaming, that their organisational policies and practices in the workplace are inclusive, equitable and non-discriminatory, and do not create barriers or reinforce the negative effects of disability.

Non governmental Organisations, who have a special inclination towards human rights issues, can use the manual to find out ways of including gender and disability in their programme planning, implementation, management and reviewing so that disability and gender is equitably mainstreamed.

Disabled Peoples Organisations (DPOs)are a vital cog in the disability mainstreaming process as they are mainly responsible for  the process of building people’s engagement with the issue and personal commitment to disability mainstreaming.  They will also find this training manual handy.

The government and policy makers will find the training manual useful in their quest for provision of supportive and responsive structures to ensure that the  process of addressing wider policy and institutional barriers that exclude women and people with disabilities from equal participation or reinforce the negative effects of the issue is addressed. How effectively  are issues of Inclusive services or supporting basic services to include PWDS,  and enabling services and strengthening disability services to meet the specific needs of individuals with impairments that prevent them from participating covered in the policies?

Layout of the manual

The training manual is divided into five self-contained modules designed to equip participants with gender and disability mainstreaming skills and competences that will enable them to engage in transformative gender and disability mainstreaming work. The modules are organized as follows:

Module 1: Concepts of disability, gender, mainstreaming and promoting awareness.  The module begins by defining what concepts are, how they change and how important they are to the issue of disability and gender equality and mainstreaming. The module then examines the models of disability that have acquired currency internationally and the implications these concepts have on gender and disability mainstreaming.  The importance, advantages, disadvantages, and emerging opportunities for gender and disability mainstreaming are then discussed while the lessons to be learnt by disability mainstreaming from gender mainstreaming are laid out. Awareness is unpacked, its importance in mainstreaming outlined and strategies discussed. Read the complete module here

Module 2: Gender and disability analysis. The module starts off by outlining the concept, purpose and features of gender analysis and subsequently disability analysis, puts into perspective the situation of women and women with disabilities and then gives a comprehensive account of the general and gender-specific gender analysis frameworks commonly used to analyse gender, including the strengths and weaknesses and applicability of the frameworks.  Disability, unfortunately, has no such frameworks. Read the complete module 2 here

Module3: Negotiating change: Role of civil society and governments in gender and disability mainstreaming. The module begins by outlining the critical linkages between government, civil society and the private sector in the governance of the country and then discusses the importance of establishing linkages with the government and private sector if mainstreaming is to succeed.  Modalities and strategies for establishing these linkages are outlined. Read complete module 3 here

Module 4: Practical ways of gender and disability mainstreaming in policy and programming.  The module details a number of general actions, international actions, national , organizational and individual actions that individuals, organizations, and the government can take to ensure the success of mainstreaming at policy and programme level. Read complete module 4 here

Module 5: Documentation, monitoring and evaluation of mainstreaming processes. This module looks at the concept of documentation, its importance, uses, strengths and perceived disadvantages and then outlines the concepts of monitoring and evaluation before laying out a number of pertinent questions intended to guide participants in the formulation and implementation of strategies to integrate gender and disability at every stage and level of the evaluation process. Read the complete module 5 here

How to use the manual

As highlighted earlier, this training manual can be used NGOs, government, and DPOs in mainstreaming gender and disability. For these groups, using the manual is relatively straightforward, as all it takes is putting into action the guidelines contained in the manual. For the representatives of DPOs who are the primary target of this training manual, who have the responsibility of training other players in gender and disability mainstreaming, there are added responsibilities that these participants have to take on board.

First, while the information contained in the module is comprehensive, it still remains merely a guideline, and participants should come up with pertinent examples and case studies that stimulate understanding and unlock initiative among the participants that they will train.

Second, the facilitators should come up with an appropriate training methodology that is in sync with the course content, the level of understanding of participants to the course, the training resources available,   and the gender and disability mainstreaming situation in the country.

Third, the trainer should  adapt training activities to suit their contexts and needs of the target group. It is important to carry out a training needs assessment of potential learners to help identify training needs/gaps. The results will determine the training programmes, methodology and how it may suit the target group


Depending on the desired outcome and efficacy of the particular training technique, the following training methods can be used singly or in combination:

• Brainstorming

• Discussions

• Lecture/talk

• Question and answer

• Role play

• Case study

• Demonstration