Evidence brief on engaging communities in Para sport in Malawi

Loughborough University
June 30, 2023
Case Studies and Reports

Stigma and discrimination are among the most pressing challenges facing persons with disabilities and their families in Malawi. It leads to social exclusion from many areas such as education, employment, and sport. Addressing stigma and other barriers to inclusion must be part of an inter-Ministerial approach to implementing disability policy in Malawi. This report shares findings from a major research study on the potential of Para sport for addressing stigma, and provides a set of recommendations. 


Key insights explored in this research:

  • Challenging stigma can support wider rights and entitlements access, including improvements to access to disability services and Assistive Technology (AT). 
  • The Paralympics and para sport can be a powerful platform for addressing local forms of disability stigma. 
  • Para athletes are powerful role models and can counter internalised stigma. 
  • Local stories and community engagement Paralympic sport is critical to it’s potential to catalyse social change. 
  • Engaging schools in para sport can advance inclusive education, inclusive sport, and support with the identification of the next generation of Para athletes.


Key recommendations:

  1. Malawi is leading the way across Sub-Saharan Africa in using Paralympic sport as a platform for social change. Malawi should continue pioneering in this space and advocating for other countries to follow its example in relevant national and international forums. 
  2. Key ministries and partners across sport, disability and media/ communication need to collaborate to support Para sport and Para sport localization and community engagement. 
  3. Implementing partners should make use of the Making Noise toolkit to foster localisation and community engagement efforts, which are vital enablers of impact.


This evidence brief is based on an integrated qualitative dataset generated through traditional research methods (interviews, focus groups and content analysis) and action research informed by ethnographic and participatory approaches. Our research investigated the meanings of disability in context in order to understand how disability and Paralympic sport are understood within local frameworks of knowledge.