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Route to Disability Allowance a Mystery No More

  • Women in Bangladesh attend a village courtyard meeting to learn how to gain access to helpful information from their local government. The Carter Center provides support to the organization that leads the meetings. (Photo: The Carter Center/ H. Khanum)

Carter Center-supported Meetings Help Mother Gain Benefits for Child with Disability

Selima Begum, 28, is the mother of a 7-year-old boy with cerebral palsy. They live in Tuker Bazar Union, Sylhet Division, Bangladesh. Since her divorce, Selima has struggled to provide necessary medical care for her son, at times having to forgo routine medical treatments because of a lack of money. Though she works as a housecleaner when she can, it often does not pay enough to meet all her family’s needs.

Selima knew that disability allowances existed but was not familiar with the requirements or application process for receiving them. After several years of being unable to find this information, Selima says she had lost hope of ever receiving the assistance.

However, more recently, Selima began attending village courtyard group meetings led by Carter Center partner organization IDEA. The meetings allowed participants to identify issues and consider how increased access to information could help solve them. In December 2018, with IDEA’s assistance, Selima filed an information request with the upazila (subdistrict) level Ministry of Social Welfare office to determine the application requirements and process. She received the information in January 2019 and used it to file the documentation required for the allowance.

After just a few days, the Social Welfare office informed Selima that she qualified for a disability allowance to support her son’s care and immediately provided her a disability card.

Although the process was straightforward, it was inaccessible and opaque to Selima when she couldn't access the necessary information. Now, she says, "If women have information, they can do anything. … They will be able to change their lives."

Related Resources

Learn how The Carter Center is helping women access information »

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