Overcoming the Double Disadvantage

» Sylvia Hartshorn

“I wanted to do something that would help [DIWA] in the long term” – Sylvia Hartshorn

Disabled women in Malawi face a “double disadvantage.” On top of dealing with a disability in an environment lacking appropriate accommodations, they also face gender inequality. “In developing countries, disability often equates to poverty,” says Sylvia Hartshorn [BA Business Administration – International Development 2017]. Sylvia met women who had never been seen by a doctor with the specialization to address their disability. The women face a lack of government protection, education and appropriate health care.

Sylvia partnered with Disabled Women in Africa (DIWA) to help protect women and girls with disabilities as part of her three-month internship. DIWA drives change in policy and keeps the government accountable while partnering with educators, lawyers and other NGOs.

It was critical for DIWA to adopt an evaluation framework to ensure the government follows through with policies that will empower disabled women. This is what Sylvia created for them. The systems and databases she implemented continue to benefit the organization. “I wanted to do something that would help [DIWA] in the long term,” she says.