The invisible role of feminine caregivers in Palestine. The Emancipatory Research process as a path towards well-being

Alessia Cinotti, Università Milano-Bicocca

Giulia Righini, Università di Bologna

This paper aims to reflect on the key issues emerged in the “PARTICIP-ACTION” Project4final evaluation5 conducted in 2018. The Project was carried out in the West Bank (Palestine), over a period of two years and embraces three fundamental cross-cutting social issues: human rights, protection of the vulnerable groups and empowerment of women.

These issues set the background of this paper’s topic, which is the vulnerable condition of feminine caregivers of people with disability in Palestine. And to address this theme, the framework chosen is the inclusive and human rights based approach, as well as the multi-perspective concept of well-being, as an indicator of women’s quality of life.This paper develops in these main topics: the condition of women as caregivers of people with disability and the concept of disability in Palestine; the concept of well-being towards Life Project’spossibilities; the Emancipatory Research (ER) methodology; the process behind the preliminary steps of the ER; some future perspectives proposals.

The main focus is on the social and family aspects related to the condition of feminine caregivers and the dimensions of well-being from the caregivers’ point of view. Indeed, the research process is based on the personal experiences and aspirations of 30 feminine caregivers involved in the “PARTICIP-AC-TION” Project’s preliminary steps. The question is the following: what is the gap between these women’s idea of a good life and their real condition?

  1. Disability: A matter of human rights

According to the World Report on Disability (WHO, 2011; 2017), in the world, persons with disability are little less than one billion — about 15% of the global population. 82% of them live in countries where there is active cooperation, as identified by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development/Development Assistance Committee (OECD-DAC). Moreover, in the world, 90% of persons with disabilities have no access to service, over 85% are unemployed and less than 4% of minors with disabilities have access to formal education. Not only these people are nearly always excluded from the advantages of development, but disability is clearly both the cause and the effect of poverty. As a matter of fact, people with disability are subject to discrimination and have no access to equal opportunities. This condition limits their participation in society and entails continuous violations of their human rights. The negative attitude of society towards people with disability produces a very strong social stigma, which is reflected in the economic, cultural, political and social life. This is why people with disability can be considered the most marginalised among the marginalised, the most discrim-inated among the discriminated (Italian Agency for Development Cooperation, 2013; 2018).

With the advent of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) in 2006, disability can no longer be assessed only as a healthcare issue leading to health care-focused projects. The CRPD has established the respect for human rights as the founding principle for the protraction of the rights of persons with disabilities. That is also why the CRPD in Article 8 (UN, 2006) specifically acknowledges the need of awareness-raising regarding the issue of people with disability both in society and at the family level. Article 8 underlines the importance of nurturing and fostering respect for rights and dignity, throughout recognising and combating stereotypes, prejudices and harmful practices.


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