My Lens My Reality
on the rights of women with disabilities
My Lens My Reality features the stories of ten women with disabilities in Nepal. Their portraits are accompanied by photographs they took themselves. Through these, they tell their stories and portray barriers and enablers for their inclusion in Nepali society. Faced with multiple layers of discrimination as women, with a disability, from a minority group, or from a poor family, they struggle to lead dignified lives. The situation and needs of women with disabilities in Nepal are under-researched, under-estimated and under-recognized. Their stories show that with access, knowledge, support and social awareness, women with disabilities can meaningfully participate in all spheres of life and contribute to society.
The Photovoice method empowers participants to decide what is most important to them and how they want to tell their story. It provides an opportunity to see the world through the eyes of the participants. This project aims to change perspectives amongst the public and decision makers and promote an inclusive society for all of us.
This exhibition is a collaborative project based on a Photovoice study carried out by the University of Bern. It has been put together by the Swiss Disability and Development Consortium, in collaboration with four Nepali organizations of persons with disabilities: the Nepal Disabled Women Association (NDWA), the National Indigenous Disabled Women Association Nepal (NIDWAN), the Blind Women Association Nepal (BWAN) and KOSHISH. The portraits were taken by Kishor Sharma from the CBM Global Nepal Country Team.
Due to her disability, Deu Kumari was deprived a basic education. With the support of a local organization of persons with disabilities, she received skill training. She is now a master trainer in tailoring. She says that if women with disabilities are given the opportunity, they can live independently, support their family and other people too. Deu Kumari is married with three children.
Discrimination based on gender, disability, age, perception and language affects Ganga’s daily life. Through social entrepreneurship, she is fighting against these societal challenges and is encouraging other women with disabilities to gain confidence.
For Sahida, it is the little things that bring true happiness and an accomplished life. Because of her poor economic status, challenged inter-caste marriage and disability, she was cast out from her family. But she has learned to stay happy and cherish every moment of her life.
The indigenous traditional way of life is important to Kamala. But as a woman with a disability from a marginalized community, it is increasingly difficult for her to cope in society. With the support of local organizations of persons with disabilities, she is empowering herself to become financially independent.
As a woman with a psychosocial disability, Sunita L. is now raising awareness at the grassroots level about prioritizing mental health as much as we prioritize our physical health. She is advocating for her rights and the rights of other members of her self-help group.
Rashmi is a deaf female artist. Her art evokes her own culture, language and community as a deaf woman. Through her art, Rashmi wants to raise the voice of people who are socially, physically, culturally, and politically disadvantaged. She wants to encourage them to get ahead in their lives by doing something better.
Being fully blind, Sunita N. faces many challenges in her day-to-day life. The roads and buildings are not accessible. Likewise, there is no facility for voice messages in zebra crossings or public bus stops, which have made her life very difficult. She wants the government to act on inclusion.
Having a physical disability is not Rupa’s choice, but she considers it her power. After going through many rejections and much distress, she finally found her way. With the help of her mother, she started a small business selling ‘achar’ (Nepali pickles). She proved to herself that her positive attitude is much stronger than her disability.
Babita has a psychosocial disability. She could not continue her education due to a variety of barriers. With the support from her family, she is now involved in tailoring and sustaining her life.
Sumitra has recently become blind due to glaucoma. Her blindness has made her financially dependent on her family. Her medication is expensive. She wants the government to provide more employment opportunities to blind people like her.