All over the world, people with disabilities face strong social stigmas and a multitude of obstacles in accessing their fundamental human rights. They are economically, socially, politically, and culturally isolated. Their health and sanitation needs are neglected. Women with disabilities are even more disadvantaged, facing the dual burden of disability and gender bias. This is the situation in Sri Lanka as well. The prevalent belief here is that people with disabilities have no potential to contribute to society, or to be independent. This attitude denies them the education, training and opportunities to utilise, develop and strengthen their talents and potential.
According to the National Policy on Disability, 2003, ‘people who have disability are among the poorest segment of the Sri Lankan population’. Poverty and societal barriers create a vicious, self-perpetuating cycle. AKASA or ‘the sky’ in Sinhala is the acronym for Aabadha Sahitha Kanthawange Sangamaya, the Sinhala for the Association of Women with Disabilities. AKASA is a network of self-help groups, devoted to creating opportunities for its members. Although the governing Executive Committee comprises solely of women with disabilities or female guardians of persons with disabilities, AKASA membership and programmes include both men and women with disabilities, and their families. AKASA is based in Talawa, a small town in the Anuradhapura District of North-Central Sri Lanka. AKASA located itself here after identifying this district, through a national survey, as one of the least developed in terms of opportunities and services for people with disabilities. Of the nearly 73 NGOs in the Anuradhapura District NGO Consortium, AKASA is the only one working on disability issuesDon't have music on your homepage unless it is necessary.