Adrian Wan, a Community Based Research Fellow student (CBRF) from Northwestern University is an intern alumnus of FSD Uganda who carried out an impactful and informative research study on the political participation of people with disabilities (PWDs) in Iganga district.
Adrian’s project aimed at exploring factors impeding the active political engagement among PWDs and proposing suggestions for improvement. The objectives of his study were: to evaluate the level of political participation among PWDs residing in Iganga District of Uganda; to identify factors that prevent PWDs from actively engaging in the democratic process.
To achieve his research agenda, he worked with Integrated Disabled Women Activities -IDWA (one of FSD Jinja partner host organization). IDWA is a non-governmental, non-profit organization established by Women with Disabilities (WWDs). The organization is dedicated to promoting the equal rights of Persons with Disabilities (PWDs), especially WWDs, in the Iganga District of Uganda. IDWA centers its advocacy program on the participation of PWDs in local governance and democratic processes, which is a crucial part of their empowerment away from the suffering from disability-based discrimination from the society.
In order to get a comprehensive understanding of the concerns raised by the PWDs in line with the research objectives, Adrian employed both qualitative and quantitative methods including FOCUS group discussions, individual interviews and administering a structured questionnaire. From his research, Adrian found that: 1) low self-esteem, 2) low education level among PWDs, 3) lack of economic support, 4) social discrimination and stigmatization, 5) corruption and 6) inefficacious information flow are the leading causes of insufficient political participation of people PWDs.
Given the community-based and participatory nature of Adrian’s research, all parties involved benefited from the research process as well as the findings. The community benefits from his research included: identified and available political participation methods for PWDs; existing obstacles to active political engagement among PWDs and suggestions for improvement; a research report illustrating detailed findings which will be used to guide future initiatives by IDIWA; a well designed poster presentation showing the research findings disseminated in the community to create awareness on the affected group of people; recommendations for the most appropriate platform for PWDs to express their concerns regarding their political participation and open discussions on pertinent issues with government officials.
The FSD Jinja internship program provided Adrian with the opportunity to explore factors impeding the active political engagement among PWDs and propose suggestions for improvement including dissemination of the study findings to the communities to stimulate discussions on the best way forward to engage PWDS in the political participation.