A women’s voice is a lever for empowerment and dignity

Stories | March 9, 2023

A women’s voice is a lever for empowerment and dignity.  
Today, March 8th, is International Women’s Day. 
Still today, in 2023, women often experience disadvantage and discrimination. This exclusion is compounded for women with disabilities. This is particularly the case in low- to middle- income countries, where disadvantage and discrimination leads to women with disabilities having fewer economic and social opportunities and, consequently, often  a deeper experience of poverty. 
Today we are celebrating International Women’s Day by hearing from women with disabilities telling their own stories 
As a writer, I know that storytelling is a powerful way to connect people. It can break down barriers as people discover common ground with one another, fostering understanding and empathy. Storytelling can help shift community attitudes. 
Voice is key to autonomy; being able to speak for yourself. 
I have cerebral palsy. Sometimes others speak for me before I get a chance to articulate for myself. I sometimes get distressed when that happens because I feel like choice is being taken from me. Because of my physical limitations, and needing others to help me, self-articulation is frequently my means to attain my choices. 
But voice doesn’t always lead to empowerment and dignity. For this to be achieved, other people need to listen well. 
I sometimes meet people who assume that I am like a child. I get the feeling that no matter what I say it will sound childlike to them.  
CBM works in partnership with people with disabilities. We are strategic in ensuring that we support more marginalised groups of people with disabilities, including women. We strengthen the capacity of women with disabilities to engage with government and community leaders as well as within their general community.  
As we mark International Women’s Day, are there any women with disabilities whose stories you could listen to? And in doing so, are there any preconceptions that you would need to lay aside in order to listen well? 

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