Developing entrepreneurship among women with disabilities in the Baltic states

In 2002, the Government of Flanders provided funds to the International Labour Organization (ILO) for a one-year technical cooperation project entitled “Developing Entrepreneurship among Women with Disabilities in the Baltic States: Exploratory Survey” (RER/01/M52/FLA). The project was coordinated by the ILO and implemented in Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania by the Estonian Union of Disabled Women, the Latvian Association of Disabled Women, and the Lithuanian Disability Information and Consultation Bureau respectively. The purpose of the project was to collect information on women with disabilities and mothers of disabled children and to compile case studies on self-employed women with disabilities in the three countries. Exploratory surveys were conducted in each country during 2003 and the information obtained was used to design a strategy and follow-up project to promote and assist entrepreneurship among women with disabilities and mothers of disabled children in the Baltic States. This exploratory survey project adopted a new approach to ILO technical cooperation in the field of disability by using a capacity-building, partnership approach which assigns responsibility for the implementation of project activities to local Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) of and for persons with disabilities, in close consultation with national and local government authorities. A project using the same approach is being implemented by the ILO in Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia. This summary report presents the key findings of the country surveys and includes excerpts from case studies of self-employed women with disabilities and mothers of disabled children in Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. The excerpts serve as illustrations of the survey findings and demonstrate the challenges these women face in their daily lives as well as highlighting the importance of their economic empowerment.

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