Friday 8 March 2019

What disabled people want on International Women's Day

Today is International Women’s Day. A day when we consider the inequalities in society, including wage gaps, social standing, opportunities, domestic abuse. The often invisible and overlooked females in our communities and workplaces.

Now stick that person in a wheelchair, or a walker, and isolate them with inadequate public transport, tell your children to stop looking at them or that they can't ask questions, take away representation in films and tv and books, create buildings as tall as the skies and pile obstacles all along the sidewalks and pathways. Don't call out when people take our parking spaces, or skip us in queues, or make assumptions based on our young age... refuse to listen to those affected by all of the above.

Don't get me wrong -all my aids are works of beautiful engineering that gift me freedom. They're not the villain in my story. But there is only so much they can do in a society not built for them.

Look around you. Look at us. Take a day out and see us all over your community. Sit with a coffee in the shopping centre and people watch. Count all the chairs and walkers and canes and crutches.

I didn't choose to end up as a disabled woman, but it's now an integral part of my being that I wouldn't alter in many ways. I am proud to be disabled and I don't believe disability is a dirty word.

More than anything I feel excitement today. I can feel a want for progressive thinking in the air, as I read article after article, social media posts from my disabled sisters and brothers. We are overtaking platforms by sheer force, and interjecting ourselves into the conversation.

See us, include us, ask why we aren't represented on tv in the numbers seen in real life. Call out event organisers that exclude us -both as hosts and as the audience. Open dialogue with business owners about accessibility. Think twice before you park on a footpath or across a disability spot. Talk to your children about mobility aids and hearing aids and prosthetics so they don’t fear the unknown.

Today we just want you to look around and see us. If you don’t see us there, ask why.

Happy International Women’s Day to all.

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