Disability policy and practice in Malawian employment and education

Lena Wånggren*, Jen Remnant, Sarah Huque, Limbani Kachali, Katherine J. C. Sang, Jenipher Ngwira

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

Malawi is a landlocked country in Southern Africa with a population of 17.5 million. It has taken great strides in addressing disability inequality in recent years. Despite this, Malawian trade unions, educators and disability activists report wide-reaching disability discrimination at an infrastructural and individual level. Situated at the intersections between disability studies and medical sociology, alongside work of postcolonial and Global South scholars, this article highlights how neo-colonial and Anglocentric dominant framings of disability do not necessarily fit the Malawian workforce, as they ignore cultural and structural differences in the causes and maintenance of ill health and disability. Building on interviews with workers with disabilities, trade unionists, educators, government representatives and disability activists in Malawi’s two biggest cities, the article emphasises the need to address specific local contexts; while policy asserts a model of social oppression, in practice, disability inclusion requires recognition of the social determinants of disability and inequality, and the economic, political and cultural context within which disability resides. Sharing co-designed approaches to engaging with disability definitions, stigma, language, infrastructure and resources, this article highlights the necessity of grounding disability and medical sociological theory in localised framings and lived experiences.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1354-1375
JournalSociology of Health & Illness
Issue number6
Early online date11 Nov 2022
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2023

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • disability
  • inclusion
  • Malawi
  • policy
  • postcolonial
  • trade unions


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