Thursday July 11th, 2019 ARCO LAB

Emancipatory Research to strengthen social and economic inclusion of persons with disabilities in Mozambique

emancipatory research mozambico disabilità formazione arco

In Mozambique, we work to strengthen the social and economic inclusion of people with disabilities also through emancipatory research. The protagonism of people with disabilities and their organizations is built by  strengthening the capacity of analysis and reading the reality and the barriers that prevent full and effective participation in society.

Within the PIN project – Participatory paths for the economic inclusion of young people with disabilities in Mozambique, funded by AICS (Italian Agency for Development Cooperation) and led by AIFO, in partnership with Terres des Hommes and ISCOS, the researchers of ARCO – Action Research for CO-Development, with the support of FAMOD (the Mozambican forum of organizations for people with disabilities), have begun to collect and analyze data involving three groups of young people with disabilities in the urban areas of Maputo, Beira and Pemba . The information collected will be used to better develop the other activities of the project focused on Professional Training, Work, Technologies for Inclusion and Communication.

In Mozambique, as in many other developing (but not only) countries, people with disabilities have enormous difficulties accessing the labor market. Nevertheless the data on the factors that contribute to increase (or limit) this exclusion are scarce. It is precisely for this reason that the researchers of the ARCO Research Center have chosen to train  young people with disabilities in social research methods.

The decision to use the innovative instrument of emancipatory research has a double objective: on the one hand it is intended to fill some knowledge gaps of the disability phenomenon; on the other hand, it intends to directly involve people with disabilities, leading them to be active subjects of social research and not solely the object of study. Conducting an emancipatory research gives factual application to the slogan “Nothing about us, without us” of the movement of people with disabilities and makes it a mode of action also in the field of knowledge production on the “disability” phenomenon.

Emancipatory research

Emancipatory research is a participatory tool for promotion and empowerment for marginalized groups or people at risk of marginalization. This type of approach finds its roots in the analysis of power relationships incorporated in research activities. These types of analyzes challenge the traditional relationship between researcher and object of research with the ultimate goal of making the most of the analytical skills of marginalized subjects.

People participanting in an emancipatory research process faces different types of change. First of all they acquire practical knowledge on “how to do research”. Secondly, they have the opportunity to exercise their analytical skills in a collective and shared way. In this way they become aware of their condition as individuals and as part of a group, for example by raising awareness on their rights and how these are respected and actually exercised. Finally they undergo a process of collective and individual empowerment resulting in a greater control over the mechanisms of knowledge production and information analysis.


The training on emancipatory research carried out by ARCO researchers therefore had the objective of bringing 60 young Mozambicans from the cities of Maputo, Beira and Pemba to approach the theoretical and scientific framework of disability and to acquire the knowledge to build the necessary tools for research in a optics of co-creation. The training therefore has had a theoretical part (on the Capability approach, the evolution of disability models, the UN Convention on the rights of persons with disabilities) and a practical part that has allowed to co-create research tools and learn their use. For example, young people have developed and tested structured questionnaires for entrepreneurs, semi-structured interviews with training center staff and focus group facilitation in the context of simulations and pilot-tests.

As already emerged in the case of the emancipatory research carried out among women with disabilities in Palestine, the degree of satisfaction of young people turned out to be very high. Just as the enthusiasm and involvement with which the young people themselves are, to date, carrying out research though interviews with entrepreneurs and staff of training centers.

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