On International Women’s Day 2021 #IWD2021 I want to ask you all to remember the contributions and challenges faced by all women; but in particular those women and girls that live with a disability.
The unique lived experiences of disabled women are often lost in the discussions we hear, disregarded in the language we use and missing from the platforms for recognition. As one disabled female friend said to me recently ‘You try ‘standing up for women’ when you are sitting in a wheelchair!’ We need to be #Challenging perceptions. As a woman living with a disability myself; I was told by someone at a checkout that I didn’t ‘look deaf’ leading me to try to explain that some disabilities are not always ‘visible’. By talking about these issues we can challenge negative stereotypes and inequality but we must listen to the lived experiences of disabled people in order to drive positive change.
I have had the honour of working with people with disabilities for a number of years, more recently, at local charity MK SNAP and I have seen the magic that happens when you start to ‘believe’ that someone can achieve their full potential. The most talented and incredible women in our community, the artisans & creatives, musicians, horticulturalists and homemakers; are often the ones who are left unrecognised but are quietly making a difference despite their health challenges. This dedicated belief in a persons ‘potential’ has the ability to manifest incredible transformation and change.
If you are one of the women I am referring to; life can be tough. The chances are you have already had to fight the dual hurdles of disability and gender inequality. Now, with the impact of COVID19 disproportionately impacting people with disabilities; this really is the time to stand up and recognise women with disabilities. Those that are living ordinary lives and like us all, some that are experiencing extraordinary lives, deserve their voices to be heard.
So I call upon you all to join me and the team at MK SNAP to #ChooseToChallenge where disabled women and girls are absent from discussions or recognition or side-lined by the language we hear. When the people of MK come together this July to celebrate our annual MK Disability Awareness Day lets make a commitment to include disabled women and girls EVERYDAY throughout the year in our wonderful city.