Role modeling: My disability does not own me

Photo: UNDP Turkmenistan

Participants of the “Social Inclusion through Leadership Skills for Disabled Women in Turkmenistan” project of support of the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) and the Deaf and Blin Society of Turkmenistan (DBS) prove that disability is not an obstacle and inspire by their personal stories, drive and courage.

“Members of the DBS and participants of the UNDP project are a very special group. They have ambitions and are goal oriented. They want to obtain higher education and profession. Some are blind by birth, others are not which makes our group very diverse. But all of them without any exception are highly motivated and inspiring,” says head of the DBS Chary Ovezov.


  • “Social Inclusion through Leadership Skills for Disabled Women in Turkmenistan” project is jointly implemented by UNDP and the Deaf and Blind Society of Turkmenistan since 2014.
  • Over fifty women with disabilities participated in a special 20-day course to promote social inclusion and greater engagement of people with disabilities in policy-making.
  • The total project budget is $240933,25 funded by the United Nations Democracy Fund and UNDP.

Project participant Maral Byashimova now serves as a procurement and logistics officer at the specialized school for people with disabilities from April 2015. Maral is an inspiring young woman who dreams big for herself and her fellow members of the DBS.

Maral took place in the UNDP project of support on gender equality in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan where she met people with visual impairments studying at the legal department of the National Law Academy of Kyrgyzstan. Inspired by her experience Maral shares:

“People with disabilities should be included and integrated into the society. Children with disability should study together with other children. This will promote the knowledge about disability and also help society learn how to handle it. When children do not see the disability they grow up thinking about it as something alien, but it is not,” says Maral.

Maral is one of the five graduates of the specialized school for people with disabilities in Turkmenistan who has completed a two-year special program at the secondary school No. 51 to receive a diploma of the complete 11 years secondary education and apply for the universities.

“I am going to the Institute of sports and tourism now,” said Maral on the day of the interview “I am applying to the chess and checkers department. We used to take part in the national and regional competitions and even won the third (3rd) place in 2001 in Tashkent at the Asian Games. All members of our team were people with visual impairments. Very soon I am going to Dashoguz to participate at the national team competition.”

Today, working at the specialized school, Maral supports current students and encourages them to dream big. She promoted one of the recent graduates to enter the 9-month course in computer and Turkish, and encourages soon-to-be graduates to continue their education to receive complete 11 years secondary education and obtain a profession.

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