International Women’s Day: Celebrating the Women of Kupenda

by Lauren Blair

Happy International Womens Day Graphic

This International Women’s Day, Kupenda joins with a global community to raise awareness about the rights of women and reduce the number of barriers they face in living prosperous lives. We also celebrate a number of women whose achievements with Kupenda continue to reduce harmful stigma and heighten inclusion for thousands of people with disabilities worldwide.

Women and Disability

Women with disabilities or mothers of children with disabilities often face additional vulnerabilities. In many low- and middle-income countries, 1 in 5 women have a disability. This is often due to poor working conditions, poverty, malnutrition, a lack of quality healthcare, and sexual violence. In addition, women who give birth to children with disabilities are often stigmatized and abandoned, resulting in 60% of children with disabilities in the care of single mothers.

Women of Kupenda

Since its beginning, Kupenda was co-founded by Cynthia Bauer on principles of establishing greater equality for others, including women and girls. Bauer, who was born without her right hand, relates to the double disadvantage that women with disabilities face. Bauer summarized,

“One of the reasons I can do what I do, is that. … I can understand what it’s like to be different and to be stared at and for people to question your abilities.”

Bauer hopes to break down barriers for females with disabilities who are seen as “different” or “less than,” so that they can share their unique gifts and talents with the world.

Some of the ways Kupenda reduces inequities for women and girls with disabilities is by:

  • Supporting access to education,
  • Providing referrals for medical care,
  • Offering counseling on the rights of people with disabilities,
  • Providing legal support to survivors of violence,
  • Teaching abuse prevention strategies, and
  • Offering vocational support.

As a result of these programs, girls like Margaret, Elizabeth, and Sharon are experiencing the life-changing results of education, self-sustainability, and inclusion.

Yet another facet of Kupenda’s work is to support mothers of children with disabilities, like Zawadi, by:

  • Hosting stigma reduction workshops,
  • Facilitating the formation of parent support groups, and
  • Offering income-generating training.


Testimonies of Hope

As a result, women and girls with disabilities supported by Kupenda’s programs can report: 

  • “In the early days, they [community members] were treating me badly, but nowadays they treat me with more love and kindness because they were taught about treating us well.” – Riziki
  • “Thank you so much Kupenda. It is through you that my children [daughters Doreen and Dorius] are loved, accepted,and included in the family and community at large.” – Esther
  • “Her [my daughter’s] self-esteem has changed because now she … knows and understands her rights.”- Yvonne

This International Women’s Day, consider providing one girl with a disability with the opportunity to reach her God-given potential, so she may pave the way for others to do the same!


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