Women with Disabilities: Voices of Protest

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In the first class on Feminism, our teacher was attacked by valid questions by many students: Why women only? There are many other marginalised groups in the world. Anyone with a different sexuality apart from the normative is targeted as a victim of social abuse and ostracism. And as she gave the statistics, it was revealed that women are discriminated against everywhere. Even among people with different sexualities, more attention and exposure are given to gays than lesbians, a woman who is a black is at the lowest rung of the social ladder. Then she went on to talk about women with some kind of physical disability, who lead a very sad life because of the social marginalisation. Even among them there are miracle stories shining through the dark as an emblem of hope.

It is very commendable when a person with a disability competes in the world of sports and succeeds in breaking all record. Aimee Mullins was born without fibula (calf) bones. Only within a year of her birth, she had both legs amputated below the knees. Aimee grew up to be a world-famous runner, who broke world records in the 100 meters, 200 meters, and long jump at the 1996 Paralympics. She went to Georgetown University, where the authorities allowed her to compete with against able-bodied athletes. Today, she is fond of other sports like skiing, boxing, and parachuting (with special shock-absorbing prosthetic legs). She has posed as a model in London for British designer Alexander McQueen and has starred in three movies and one TV episode.

aimee-mullins

Another story that moves most people when they hear is that of Josephine Namiriru. Josephine was raised by her mother after her father died on her third birthday. Shortly before her father’s death, Josephine had become disabled due to polio. Life at school was not easy. Scool can be really cruel and insensitive to someone who did not much fall among the mainstream. But nothing deterred her from her pursuit of knowledge.After primary school, there was a perios of heartbreak because her mother, with the burden of her other children found she could not afford to send Jo’s education anymore .Fortunately, they came across the Nkokonjeru Cheshire Home, who agreed to sponsor Josephine with the help of the Lillian Foundation. She went on to University to study Business Administration, sponsored by the Government, graduating in January 2014. Her greatest achievement is however helping other people with disabilities. Like a century Helen Keller, in 2009, she joined Leonard Cheshire Disability’s Young Voices, a global network of young campaigners with disabilities. She dedicated her adult life counselling and helping children with disabilities get through school and get back to the mainstream. She led a group of five young members who successfully campaigned for a ramp to be constructed for the Catholic Church in their community. She used her platform to bring to notice voices of pleas and protests of other children, especially girls, with disabilities. she was given the opportunity through Leonard Cheshire Disability to come to London and collaborate with Lynne Featherstone, the UK Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for International Development. This experience has made her even more determined to strive to make a difference for women with disabilities in Uganda and all around the world.

JOSEPHINE

Gabriela “Gaby” Brimmer ,the famous writer and activist for persons with disabilities, was born in Mexico as a daughter of Austrian Jewish immigrants. As a Jew, she had to face her first round of discrimination already. Still she is one of the most successful people in the world despite being born with cerebral palsy. A teacher at the rehabilitation centre she was sent to, first recognised her intrinsic talent and passion for writing . In 1967, Brimmer entered a regular school with other mainstream kids. Here too her eachers encouraged and urged her to write. She began to write really mature poems based on her experiences of being different. Her mother was moved by her poems a lot and wanted to publish an anthology soon. It wasn’t easy. Brimmer could only type on the typewriter with a toe from her left foot. This was the only part of her body she could control. Gaby later founded an organization of disabled people, known as Asociación para los Derechos de Personas con Alteraciones Motoras (Adepam) and was an active member in numerous other organizations. She became a full time and dedicated activist, lobbying for human rights and took part in many counselling and educational wings of many educational organisations, becoming an inspiring figure. Her message to people with disabilities was to reconsider their ways of living by forgetting that they have any limits. Brimmer’s life was retold in the film Gaby: A True Story.
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There are weak people and then there are determined miracle women with equally surprising stories. It is the easiest to harass or bully these women or discard them with pity by citing their physical disability as an excuse. Their emotional strength and zeal to live makes them stronger than many normal people with normal lives. The stories again illustrate and conflate the basic premise of a patriarchal ideology that men are superior because they are biologically so. The point is that, it does not matter.

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