Education, Work, and Motherhood in Low and Middle Income Countries: A Review of Equality Challenges and Opportunities for Women with Disabilities

Open Access Journal | ISSN: 2183-2803

Review | Open Access

Education, Work, and Motherhood in Low and Middle Income Countries: A Review of Equality Challenges and Opportunities for Women with Disabilities


  • Belaynesh Tefera Department of Human Resource Studies, Tilburg University, The Netherlands / School of Commerce, College of Business and Economics, Addis Ababa University, Ethiopia
  • Marloes L. van Engen Department of Human Resource Studies, Tilburg University, The Netherlands
  • Alice Schippers Disability Studies Netherlands, The Netherlands / Department of Medical Humanities, VU University Medical Centre, The Netherlands
  • Arne H. Eide SINTEF Technology and Society, Norway / Centre for Rehabilitation Studies, Stellenbosch University, South Africa
  • Amber Kersten Department of Human Resource Studies, Tilburg University, The Netherlands
  • Jac van der Klink Department of Human Resource Studies, Tilburg University, The Netherlands / Scientific Center for Care and Welfare, Tilburg University, The Netherlands


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Abstract:  This study looks at the equality challenges and opportunities for women with disabilities in low and middle income countries (LMICs) to participate and succeed in education, employment and motherhood. It is based on a systematic review of the literature from academic and non-governmental organization databases. The search of these databases yielded 24 articles, which were subsequently passed through open, axial, and selective coding. The resulting review found that women with disabilities in LMICs have severe difficulty participating and succeeding in education, employment and motherhood due to a number of interrelated factors: (i) hampered access to education, employment, intimacy and marriage, (ii) stigma and cultural practices resulting in discrimination and prejudice, and (iii) lack of support from family, teachers and institutions—all of which are exacerbated by poverty. Support from families, communities, the government, and non-governmental organizations improves women’s ability to fulfil their social roles (as students, employees and mothers), resulting in a better quality of life. Strategies that create awareness, minimize poverty and facilitate justice may improve the opportunities for women with disabilities in LMICs to participate in education, employment and motherhood, as well as their ability to succeed in these domains.

Keywords:  capability; disability; education; employment; low and middle income countries; motherhood; social roles; women with disabilities

Published:   26 March 2018


DOI: https://doi.org/10.17645/si.v6i1.1206


© Belaynesh Tefera, Marloes L. van Engen, Alice Schippers, Arne H. Eide, Amber Kersten, Jac van der Klink. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0), which permits any use, distribution, and reproduction of the work without further permission provided the original author(s) and source are credited.