The challenges faced by women with visual impairments in living a sustainable livelihood: A case of lusaka District, Zambia

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Kachaka, Hildah
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The nature of the challenges faced by women with visual impairments remains uncertain. However, studies have been done on women with disabilities in general but none has focused on women with visual impairments. A descriptive survey design study approach was used in order to obtain a true and comprehensive picture of individuality. Primary data was collected through interview schedules and questionnaires to a sample of people selected to accurately represent the population under study in Lusaka urban. Data was collected from women with visual impairments in different government line ministries from those working. For those not in employment data was collected from the central business town centre where they positioned themselves strategically to ask for alms from well wishers and passers-by. The target population was all women with visual impairments registered with the federation for the blind and based in Lusaka urban. From the findings it has been noted that women with visual impairments have a lot of challenges on sustainable livelihood. Sixty six percent (66%) of the women stated that they were not able to live a sustainable livelihood, as most of them depended on begging for their livelihood. The money they realized from begging could not meet all their basic needs. From the findings it has also been noted that the women with visual impairment despite their level of education, they could not be offered any other job apart from being telephone operators. From the 16 (50%) of women with visual impairment who are in formal employment, 11(69%) had attained grade nine while 5(31%) were grade twelve school leaver sand yet were doing the same job. The grade twelve school leavers felt unfairly treated because sight had disadvantaged them in the area of wanting to do other professions of their dreams. Further more, research has revealed that there some cultural factors that contribute to the challenges women with visual impairments face. The findings show that 20(63%) of all the participants indicated that they were discriminated, segregated and abused by the sighted in different ways. Eleven (35%)) of the women with visual impairment stated that as they were growing up, they were overprotected and over looked and this has contributed to their poverty situation today.Results of the study indicate that there is a strong relationship between being visually impaired and sustainable livelihood among women despite their education levels. The study has also revealed that although there is so much awareness on disability issues women with visual impairments are still discriminated and excluded from the mainstream activities. Therefore stakeholders in disability issues should address the plight of these women.
Visually handcapped , Visually impaired