Erick Ochieng, project officer with Basic Needs Basic Rights is sat at a table with other members of an Organization of Persons with Disabilities (OPD) in Bengoni, Kenya on June 2, 2022. “The myths surrounding persons with disabilities and witchcraft is still quite strong here,” says Ochieng. In addition to advocating mental health causes, the OPD is starting a savings and loans component.

Disability Stigma

Social stigma around disability is one of the biggest barriers to inclusion. Disability stigma negatively impacts the quality of life of people with disabilities, and often prevents them from playing a full role in society. This is a waste of human potential as well as an abuse of people’s human rights.

Stigmatising attitudes and behaviours around disability result from a lack of awareness, fear, prejudice and discrimination. Harmful community attitudes and behaviours include false assumptions and beliefs that having a disability is shameful, bad luck or even dangerous.

Disability stigma perpetuates a cycle of disability and poverty. It creates barriers to participation in all areas of life, including education, healthcare and livelihoods.

Let’s End Disability Stigma

Find out more about the impact of disability stigma and how we can all play our part in tackling it in this short film:

View the video transcript here (PDF: 69kb).

Watch the audio-described version here (open in new link - YouTube).

Living With Disability Stigma

Disability stigma increases the likelihood of dependency on others, having a lower income, poorer health and achieving a lower level of education:

  • People with disabilities are sometimes locked up or hidden away from the public, limiting their access to work and productive livelihood opportunities.
  • Children with disabilities may not attend school if parents and teachers see little value in educating them.
  • If health workers hold discriminatory attitudes, people with disabilities may not receive treatment and therefore may stop seeking it.

This impacts upon individuals as well as their wider family and friends, putting great strain on their relationships. People sometimes internalise these false, negative beliefs resulting in self-stigma, and detrimentally affecting their emotional wellbeing.

End Disability Stigma

People with disabilities should be treated with dignity, and able to fulfil their potential. Stigma reduction must be at the heart of all we do if we are serious about breaking the poverty-disability cycle and achieving inclusive societies. This means:

  1. Raising awareness to demystify disability
  2. Increasing the visibility of people with disabilities as active members of their community
  3. Peer to peer support can counter self-stigma
  4. The disability movement can lead the way, turned lived experience into meaningful response

This short video tells the story of stigma in the life of Mourine:

View the video transcript here (PDF: 253kb).

Ending Disability Stigma – CBM in action

Yashraj's Story

“I was asked to form a small group of people with disabilities who offer mutual support and are activists for the rights of people living with disabilities…From that time on, my life changed.”

Jeanne's Story

“Now people call me a person with a disability, not someone who is nothing”.

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