Disability policy and practice in Malawian employment and education

Lena Wånggren, Jen Remnant, Sarah Huque, Limbani Kachali, Katherine J. C. Sang, Jenipher Ngwira

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Abstract

Malawi is a landlocked country in Southern Africa with a population of 17.5 million. It has taken great strides in addressing disability inequality in recent years. Despite this, Malawian trade unions, educators and disability activists report wide-reaching disability discrimination at an infrastructural and individual level. Situated at the intersections between disability studies and medical sociology, alongside work of postcolonial and Global South scholars, this article highlights how neo-colonial and Anglocentric dominant framings of disability do not necessarily fit the Malawian workforce, as they ignore cultural and structural differences in the causes and maintenance of ill health and disability. Building on interviews with workers with disabilities, trade unionists, educators, government representatives and disability activists in Malawi's two biggest cities, the article emphasises the need to address specific local contexts; while policy asserts a model of social oppression, in practice, disability inclusion requires recognition of the social determinants of disability and inequality, and the economic, political and cultural context within which disability resides. Sharing co-designed approaches to engaging with disability definitions, stigma, language, infrastructure and resources, this article highlights the necessity of grounding disability and medical sociological theory in localised framings and lived experiences.

Original languageEnglish
JournalSociology of Health and Illness
Early online date11 Nov 2022
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 11 Nov 2022

Keywords

  • inclusion
  • Malawi
  • policy
  • trade unions
  • disability
  • postcolonial

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