Enabling Women: Empowering women of all abilities through access, choice and respect.
“Being treated differently by other people hurts your feelings, even though I try to ignore it, it still hurts”. Samantha
“In the outside world, I find I have to prove myself, or else I hide it.” Gloria
“The bullying at primary school was occasionally the girls, but there were an awful lot of boys who saw me as the girl with a disability and they could use their fists whenever they wanted.” Kate
These are some of the stories of regional women who came to the Enabling Women Leadership Program.
The program was delivered for the first time in Victoria’s north east during 2016 in partnership with Women with Disabilities Victoria.
Women with disabilities are diverse and resilient yet they experience serious levels of violence, discrimination and disadvantage. Events organised in 2015 and 2016 provided opportunities to hear from women with disabilities and to bring women of all abilities together in strong partnerships to lead community action.
Developed by Women with Disabilities Victoria, the Enabling Women Leadership Program is a community leadership program that empowers 8-12 women with disabilities to have a voice about issues that relate to them and other women with disabilities. The program is one day a week for six weeks followed by a graduation celebration.
In March 2017 a formal evaluation report of the program was launched by WHGNE with graduates from the program. Evaluation shows how the rights based program builds knowledge about women’s lived experience of disability in rural settings and new networks for women with disabilities to inform and drive change in their communities.
So what did the women think of the program?
Samantha – “I learnt how important it is to be safe and to be accepted.”
Amy – “I enjoyed being around other women with disabilities and seeing their strengths. Hearing how other women spoke gave me the confidence to speak up.”
Kate – “They’ve all got skills, that’s what I learnt. I realised that my limitations were just limitations, and that was it. And I’ve learnt how to balance now.”