Tuesday, 12 June 2012

CHANGE: How bad do you want it?

The past three years have changed me, my values and ideologies are totally different now. Its quite impressive. One of the biggest compliment was when my dad visited last year and commented at how mature I have become..mmhhh:)) After having Fifi I knew i was going to be a stay at home mum, I didn't know for how long but I knew I couldn't leave her in a stranger's care at an early stage.
My desire for development motivated by my own disability saw me scour a variety of resources for information specific to development and disability. This is when i came across Mobility International USA (MIUSA). An exceptional organization offering leadership and development exchange programs for women with disabilities. Attending any one of MIUSAs workshops would be a dream for any woman from a developing nation, let alone a disabled woman. The networks one would create would be an invaluable resource.
However, getting accepted into any of their programs is extremely difficult due to the competitive application process, not to mention the daunting visa application procedure at the US Embassy.
There is hope though, the US Foreign Policy stresses the importance of women in development and as we strive for a more inclusive society in line with the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, I believe this policy is also referring to women with disabilities and the importance of the participation of these women in leadership and decision making positions. 
This is an excerpt of a speech delivered by Melanne Verveer, Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women’s Issues at the Heinrich Boll Foundation Event in Washington DC on January 19, 2012 which she says “We all know that to ensure sustainable development, among the challenges we need to address are those posed by climate change, natural resource degradation, gender inequality, and the shortcomings of the global economy. 
To do this, we need to harness the immense human capacity to innovate and develop solutions to these and related complex, interconnected challenges. And no effort to advance sustainable development will succeed that does not take into account half the world’s population. We’ve known this for some time, but recently, and in large part due to all of you, I believe there is greater awareness of these issues. Momentum is building to not only acknowledge the vital role that women can and must play in building a sustainable future, but the need for action to unlock the potential they represent. 
First, we must continue to elevate women’s leadership and participation in key policy bodies. Women should have an equal seat at the table in decision-making processes that impact environmental policies and natural resource investment decisions at all levels of government. From local village councils, to cities, to national planning processes, to international and multilateral development institutions and funds, it is essential that policies and programs be instilled with a spirit of inclusion, innovation, and equal participation of women”.

She continues “The United States is doing its part to facilitate women’s participation and to raise the profile of these issues on the international stage. Just this past year, my office supported the participation of grassroots women in several significant conferences on sustainable development issues and how to promote women’s entrepreneurship opportunities and markets for them in their countries”.

The UN Under-Secretary-General Sha Zukang, who is in charge of the upcoming Rio+20 Conference for the United Nations, stated: “I have said it before – and I say it again today – that in many ways, sustainability is about women. Society flourishes when women’s leadership, creativity, and initiative are recognized, embraced, and harnessed”.

In 1995, at the UN 4th World Conference on Women in Beijing, then-First Lady Hillary Clinton delivered an historic speech on women’s rights as human rights. Moreover, as Secretary Clinton has noted, women use their incomes to create a multiplier effect in local communities because they disproportionately spend more of their earned income on food, healthcare, home improvement, and schooling. Unlocking their full potential requires removing the barriers that women still face disproportionately – including limited access to training, finance, technology, and markets, among others.

As I read and research for more opportunities for women with disabilities this is what i have come to realize, we need to stand up to be acknowledged, if you cannot stand, speak out, shout if thats what it takes to be heard. No one will hold your hand and show you the way, you have to clear your own path. Opportunities for growth and development are immense, but you have to look for them. They will not come looking for you.  My sisters, you will face hinderances, rejections and obstacles, doors will be shut in your face, insults hurled your way but do you tire and grow weary? NO! You only become stronger in your resolve.
How bad do you want change? Change does not come easy, nor does it come to those that slumber!
I am encouraged, I am strengthened. I have been rejuvenated.
They have awoken the activist in me, and woe unto those who stand in my way!