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South Asia and Disability Studies

Redefining Boundaries and Extending Horizons

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Shridevi Rao and Maya Kalyanpur

Incorporating scholarship that addresses the social, economic, cultural, and historical facets of the experience of disability in South Asia, this book presents the reader with a comprehensive, cogent, and nuanced view of the constructions of disability in this region. In doing so, it focuses on the lived experiences of people with disabilities and their families, analyzing such disabling barriers as poverty, caste, and other inequities that limit their access to education, employment, equity, and empowerment. It addresses the interpretations of disability within different South Asian contexts including policy, family, educational systems, films, and literary narratives. Situated in an interdisciplinary perspective that spans areas such as cultural studies, law, disability studies in education, sociology, and historiography, South Asia and Disability Studies presents a rich and complex understanding of the disability experience in South Asia. The organization of topics parallels the discourse in areas within disability studies such as identity construction, language, historical constructions of disability, and cultural representations of disability.
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Chapter 9: Disability, Gender and Education: Exploring the Impact of Education on the Lives of Women with Disabilities in Pakistan

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…It is remarkable how little we know about the lives and the worlds occupied by people with disabilities in developing countries. (Fujiura, Park, & Rutkowski-Kmitta, 2005, p. 295)

There are around 300 million women with disabilities worldwide (World Health Organisation [WHO], 2006). These women have very low literacy rates, suggested by some to be as little as 1 percent (United Nations [UN] Enable, 2010), and they also face gender inequalities in income, employment and education (United Nations Development Programme [UNDP], 2012). It is commonly acknowledged that women with disabilities face double discrimination (World Bank, 2012), which is further magnified in poverty contexts (Thomas & Thomas, 2002a). Recent studies have highlighted the growing cyclical relationship between disability and poverty (Department for International Development [DFID], 2000), where the associated costs of disability are worsened due to poverty (e.g., labour market discrimination, difficulties in accessing education, etc.), and in turn poverty increases vulnerability to disability through poor nutrition, lack of access to healthcare, exposure to violence and so forth. (Sen & Goldbart, 2005). Thus, people with disabilities living in poverty traditionally lack opportunities, resources and support to develop and promote their capabilities (Eide & Ingstad, 2011).

In recent discourse, education has been regarded as a catalyst for alleviating poverty by empowering people with the knowledge, skills and confidence for a better future leading also to broader social, economic, political and cultural benefits for them (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization [UNESCO], 2011a). This faith in education is central...

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