Part of a Whole

My name is Nicolas Steenhout.
I speak, train, and consult about inclusion, accessibility and disability.

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International Women’s Day

March 8 is International Women’s Day. It is a “is a global day celebrating the economic, political and social achievements of women past, present and future.”[1] Funny thing is, it appears that even within an oppressed group, oppression happens. Feminists seem to ignore women with disabilities.

My late wife often discussed the issues of being part of a "double minority" – she was a woman, and she had a disability. We spoke about oppressed groups who were not quite as open as they thought they were. We spoke of friends who were part of a triple minority: Latino (or African American) disabled women.

Today, Robyn Hunt, a commissioner with the New Zealand Human rights Commission, made the following comment on Facebook:

Today, March 8 is International Women’s Day. Our rights still matter. Have had some reminders of the lack of them recently and feeling rather sombre in consequence. Here there is little recognition of, or even interest in the difficulties disabled women face on a daily basis. International Women’s day simply reminds me of the indifference of non-disabled women.

This immediately reminded me of all those times I’d spoken about those issues with my late wife. And it brought responses from other people, such as:

  • The disability perspective on feminism isn’t heard enough in my view.
  • I’m amazed how much discrimination there is, woman to woman.

Out of curiousity, I went on the International Women’s Day website. I did a bit of a search to see what issues were reported around disabilities. A search on the word ‘disabled‘ returns two results for 2009, talking about the ‘disabled access’ of two locations for the day’s events. A search on the word ‘disability‘ also returns two results – one for the non-discrimination policy of the European Investment Bank, and the other for the risks of osteoporosis.

Clearly, disability issues within the greater spectrum of women’s issues is high on the agenda there. NOOOT!

There are no safe places, are there?

I invite feminists not already involved with disability issues to think about this issue. What can YOU do to improve this situation?

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