The Impact of Unemployment on Women with Physical Disabilities in Tamale, Ghana

By Augustina Naami and Hank Liese.

Published by The Diversity Collection

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

Unemployment rates among persons with disabilities are high. Women are at greater risk as a result of the interaction of gender and disability. Although studies portray the inequality, oppression, and exclusion that women with disabilities encounter, little research is available on the impact of unemployment on women with physical disabilities (WWPD). This qualitative study explores the daily experiences of unemployed WWPD in Tamale, Ghana-Africa. Since so little is known about how unemployment impacts the lives of WWPD, a phenomenological
research approach guided this study. Purposive and snowball samplings were used to recruit ten unemployed WWPD for in-depth interviews. Interviews lasted 90-120 minutes and were recorded with participants’ permission. The research was framed using the social model of disability and feminist theory. The two frameworks helped develop an understanding about the exclusion of women, which is basically a consequence of the interaction of gender and disability and its negative consequences, e.g., unemployment, lower income, and poverty. Study findings are classified under two broad categories, poverty and inadequate social participation. Poverty, resulting from inadequate income due to unemployment and disability, is the major study finding. Poverty impacts negatively on family relations, social relations, and the mobility of
unemployed WWPD. It also affects their ability to provide for basic necessities of life. In the absence of welfare programs to lessen the effects of poverty, the majority of unemployed WWPD are compelled to engage in begging or menial jobs as means for survival. Another major study finding is that of inadequate social participation, which results from the unemployment of WWPD and their non-participation in social support groups, as they are unable to pay membership dues and transport fare to and from meetings. Inadequate social participation has a bearing on the information unemployed WWPD receive, and don’t receive, which further excludes them from mainstream society. However, in the midst of all their challenges, participants demonstrated positive attitudes towards life and hope for a better future.

Keywords: Ghana, Gender Inequality, Unemployment, Women with Physical Disabilities, Poverty

International Journal of Diversity in Organizations, Communities and Nations, Volume 11, Issue 2, pp.117-128. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 974.688KB).

Dr. Augustina Naami

Ph.D., College of Social Work, University of Utah, Salt Lake City, Utah, USA

Augustina Naami, Ph.D Augustina has accepted a position as an Assistant Professor at the University of Northern Iowa, beginning Fall 2011. She was a contract faculty at the University of Utah College of Social Work. Augustina received her MSW and Ph.D. degrees from the University of Chicago and the University of Utah respectively. Her research interests include gender, disability, poverty and international social work.

Hank Liese

Associate Professor and Director of Doctoral Studies, College of Social Work, University of Utah, Salt Lake City, Utah, USA

Hank Liese, MSW, Ph.D. is Associate Professor and Director of Doctoral Studies in the College of Social Work at the University of Utah. He received his MSW (1985) and Ph.D. (1990) degrees from the University of California, Berkeley. His areas of research interest include disabilities, community engagement, human rights, and social justice.


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