Teachers and students of the Lao Disabled Womenʼs Development Centre at a strategic planning event for people with disabilities, Laos 2016, © Lao Disabled Women’s Development Centre
The Lao Disabled Women’s Development Centre (LDWDC), established in 1990, creates practical opportunities for people with disabilities through vocational training and life skill training. Up to 30 new students enrol in the LDWDC training programme every year. All of the students have been affected by disability in some way. The majority are themselves women with disabilities. Some are able-bodied with disabled family members and act as caregivers or breadwinners for the family member. Most students come from poor, rural areas of Laos, and many are also members of minority ethnic groups. Over 80 % of the women with disabilities who come to the Centre have lost one or both of their parents.
The students live in the LDWDC dormitories for the duration of their 6-month training programme. The core component of the training is sewing and needlework training, as this is a valuable skill in Laos. The students also receive training in a number of other areas, including social development and awareness, women’s civil rights, healthcare and hygiene, small business, IT and Lao/English language skills. The training is designed to not only teach women with disabilities valuable income-generating skills, but also to build their confidence and help them become independent.
The Centre empowers individuals by facilitating an understanding of their abilities, and supports them by creating an environment of peer support and liberation. LDWDC actively advocates the rights, recognition and equal opportunities of disabled women by promoting awareness and raising the profile of disabled women. The centre works with several government agencies and other partners (such as international donor agencies and INGOs), and encourages the understanding and acceptance of people with disabilities in society.
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