Over two million women and girls live with a disability in Australia. These women are diverse, unique individuals that are exceptionally different from one and another—and they’re also largely underrepresented and oppressed by discriminatory mindsets.
The 8th of March marks International Women’s Day—a day committed to inspiring, empowering, and advocating for society to take action and create an accessible and inclusive world where everyone has equal opportunities.
This year’s International Women’s Day theme #EachforEqual (an equal world is an enabled world) is dedicated to celebrating collective individualism.
Everyone is unique in their fight for equality, and that is what makes us so powerful. When we all come together – women with disability, women of colour, queer women, young women, old women – to share our collective experiences we become part of a larger movement that has the strength to disrupt and shift society.
This International Women’s Day we are making a stand to celebrate all women, in all their diversities.
Over our 30 years of disability employment support, we have seen firsthand the challenges that women with disability face when looking for employment.
Today we’re sharing the voices and experiences of the amazing women with disability we have met and supported along our journey towards a diverse and inclusive Australia.
Women with disability have a right to a seat at the table this International Women’s Day, and we’re committed to making sure their stories are heard.
Meet the everyday women with disability who are leading the charge
Read their words. Hear their stories. Feel their passion.
“All of my life, I’ve had to put up with people’s perspective on me that I’m a nobody because I have no arms. I’m still fighting people to change their perspective about me.
“Why can’t people just accept people no matter how they look? We need equal playing fields and we won’t get acceptance until accessibility is the norm.
“Life has been hard but still worthwhile. The dark days make you stronger. Maybe not at that time, but down the track, you’ll be stronger.”
“I was sitting in a truck stop one day, and I was looking at the trees and working out which one could hold my weight.
“I felt that I could do it on my own and I was really wrong. Really, really wrong.
“Most people assume if you have got anxiety or depression or some kind of disability, you’re broken and can’t follow through the same as a ‘normal’ person.
“Don’t give up. Find someone to be your backbone and your support. Somebody will listen.
“Go into the woods and scream, get out that demon that is living in you at that moment. Because although I have been where I did not see any light, and there was no light at that time at all, there is always a light.”
“When I came to EPIC Assist I was lost. I was struggling with severe PTSD, anxiety, depression, and very low self-worth. It got so bad I could barely leave my home – I couldn’t be in crowds and I didn’t know how to talk to people.
“Now I look at every obstacle I’ve faced and those that lie ahead as a way to build my strength and resilience.
“While I couldn’t have done it without so many people, I was the only one that could take each step, fight each day and push myself further.”
“Art is reflective, and I think when it comes to discrimination, we sometimes need to be directly shown the hurt we are causing, and the voices we are silencing, in order to do better.
“I can’t fully or adequately describe just how much art has helped me throughout my journey. I don’t think it’s inaccurate to say that art has saved my life.
“A world of difference can be made by listening to people with a disability and allowing us to lead social change.
“Artists with disability know what it is like to be held back, but we also know how much more we are capable of, and what society is capable of.
“People often judge what they can’t see or understand. Be kind. Be more accepting of difference.
“Autism gives me the ability to think differently. It comes in handy when thinking of my innovative ideas.
“I want to create opportunities and change mindsets and show my community that everyone has the ability to shine, some of us shine at different angles.”
“Because so much of society and life is focused around sight and vision, I don’t think people can conceive how a person could live and function as a meaningful member of society without sight.
“I think the only way of breaking the stigma is getting more blind people in employment, in all kinds of different workplaces, to actually show employers what blind people are capable of.”
“Everyone should have a chance to work. Give them a chance and see what they can do.”
“For a long time during my darkest days, I felt life was not worth living. Art has been very healing for me. For a number of years my art reflected my state of mind and my search for meaning in my life.
“Having art to focus on has gone a long way toward healing my inner world. I now feel that I am living the life I was created to. When you can shift your focus to something that brings you joy, you can turn your life around.”