DONATE

Voices of the Marginalised

The study, which ended in 2016, aimed to share the experiences of people with disabilities and older people living in developing countries.

A close-up of a man's hand. He's holding a white cane and wearing a blue t-shirt.

There is growing recognition of inequalities that arise from marginalisation: people in excluded situations rarely have their voices heard. This invisibility is compounded by a lack of relevant data.

Between 2012 and 2016 Sightsavers conducted the Voices of the Marginalised research study in partnership with HelpAge International and ADD International. It aimed to share the experiences of people with disabilities and older people living in developing countries.

The study covered the areas of social, political and economic inclusion, and aimed to influence national and global policymakers and strengthen efforts to provide accessible quality services at a local level. The study was conducted in Bangladesh and Tanzania. Bringing partners together, bridging research and policy, along with tangible recommendations, is essential to improve the quality of life and participation of the most excluded people.

This research comes at a time when governments are reevaluating their priorities as well as their spending and accountability mechanisms in the light of the 2030 Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals.

How the study was carried out

Bangladesh

In India, community peer researchers, including people with disabilities, older people and representatives of local NGOs working on disability or ageing, collected more than 70 stories. The stories were analysed and key emerging issues were identified that particularly affect people with disabilities and older people in Bangladesh. Common issues included lack of access to education, exclusion and mistreatment, mobility problems, rape and sexual abuse, and the role of grassroots community-based organisations.

The issues are interrelated, and the stories gathered illustrated how earning an income, for example, can transform a person’s independence, status and self-esteem.

Tanzania

In Tanzania, peer researchers collected 106 stories from people with disabilities, older people and staff working in local NGOs on disability (physical, visual, hearing, intellectual, albinism and mental health) or ageing.

The peer researchers were asked to identify the main issues faced by people with disabilities and older people, why they thought these issues occurred and how they were connected. They analysed these stories in a workshop and identified poverty, income and dependence, witchcraft and albinism mistreatment, sexual violence and gender issues, poor treatment from family and taking advantage of people with disabilities as some of the emerging issues.

A photo of the cover of the report and the summary “Hear my voice: old age and disability are not a curse”.

Resources

Downloads

Hear my voice: old age and disability are not a curse, 2016

A community-based participatory study gathering the lived experiences of persons with disabilities and older people in Tanzania

View the full report [pdf]
View the easy read version [pdf]
View the summary [pdf]

 

Voices of the Marginalised: 2016 policy update

Innovative and participatory research for better and inclusive policymaking

View the policy update [pdf]

 

We can also make change, 2015

Piloting participatory research with persons with disabilities and older people in Bangladesh

View full report [pdf]
View summary in Bangla [pdf]
View summary [pdf]

 

We can also make change briefing, 2013

View briefing [pdf]

Presentations

Counting the “Invisible”? The need for qualitative data

Marion Steff (December 2016)

View the presentation [Slideshare]

 

Hear my voice: old age and disability are not a curse 

Bakar Fakih and Mwifadhi Mrisho (2016)

View the presentation [Slideshare]

 

Hear my voice: lived experiences of older people and people with disabilities in Tanzania

Marion Steff and Margo Greenwood (February 2016)

View the presentation [Slideshare]

 

Inequalities and the Voices of the Marginalised study

Marion Steff (April 2013)

View the presentation [Slideshare]

 

Innovation through empowerment: The Voices of the Marginalised project

Marion Steff (March 2016)

View the presentation [Slideshare]

 

Hear my voice: Lived experiences of older people and people with disabilities in Tanzania

Marion Steff and Margo Greenwood (February 2016)

View the presentation [Slideshare] 

 

Voices of the Marginalised study: context and results 

Lipi Rahman and Fred Smith (August 2015)

View the presentation [Slideshare]

Want to learn more about our work?

Disability rights

More on disability

An older man talks to a younger man, who is holding a tablet computer. They are sitting in a hospital waiting room.
Sightsavers blog

Data Values campaign: why we must act now to create a fair data future

Sightsavers' Tichafara Chisaka explains how the campaign aims to transform data in the development community and why it closely aligns with our inclusion work.

Tichafara Chisaka, September 2022
Nora teaches numbers to pre-school children. A child using a wheelchair sits on her left.
Sightsavers blog

Transforming Education Summit: our call for world leaders

Sightsavers’ inclusive education policy officer Takyiwa Danso explains why we’re calling on global leaders to protect the rights of children with disabilities.

Takyiwa Danso, September 2022
A man sits on a stationary motorbike with Saio on the backseat. They are both wearing helmets and surgical masks.
Sightsavers blog

We must include students with disabilities in education transformation

Sightsavers’ Gertrude Oforiwa Fefoame shares why inclusion and diversity must be at the heart of discussions at the UN's Transforming Education Summit.

Gertrude Oforiwa Fefoame, September 2022