International Women's Day - honouring women
15 March 2004 at 12:03 pm
International Women’s Day Honours Women with Disabilities
It’s easy to reel off the names of influential women in Australia who are leaders in their field. For women with disabilities the concept of leadership is also emerging as an attainable goal and International Women’s Day this year is recognising their achievements.
For Heather Forsyth and Maureen Badrock who have intellectual disabilities, leadership has come to them in their advocacy roles. With help from government agencies they have been able to develop and maintain these roles.
Both these forty-something women have written their own personal stories as part of International Women’s Day celebrations, hoping to inspire others.
Their stories tell about what influences them and how they have taken on leadership roles that have had an impact on the communities they are involved in.
The Department of Human Services (which comes under the Minister for Community Services the Hon Sherryl Garbutt MP) contributes to and supports a range of initiatives which promote women with disabilities in leadership roles including the Women’s Health and Health and Wellbeing Strategy and the Women’s Community Leadership Grants.
Heather Forsyth received a Women’s Community Leadership Grant last year to help continue her leadership work with the Victorian Disability Advisory Council.
Here’s how Heather describes it:
I worked for a Self Advocacy organisation for about 10 years as a Self-Advocate project worker. The organisation helped me to come out of my shyness and made me stand up for my rights and support my peers to stand up for their rights. I would like to let you know that my supports are my husband Doug, my husband’s family and my foster family. Without the support of both families I would not be what I am today.
I would like a lot of people to know how important it is that I can do these things now. I am using my skills that I am learning through my leadership grant to support people with an intellectual disability and to make sure other people think about the needs of people with an intellectual disability in the community. I would like to let people know to look at my ability not my disability.
Maureen Badrock says she knew she was capable of achieving from an early age. She taught herself to read and write just by copying pages and pages of words from books and magazines that she found around her home.
She’s now attending a TAFE course once a week and attends Monkami (an adult training support service). She lives with her niece Sam and has been invited onto a range of committees to make decisions about supporting other people with intellectual disabilities. In her spare time she writes poetry.
Karen Howe is the Chair of the Disability Advisory Council of Victoria. She says leadership is about women with disabilities expressing their views, standing up and having an opinion whether they are asked for it or not.
She says this group is often doubly disadvantaged because of gender and their disability.
Howe says leadership for women with disabilities holds the same qualities of passion, integrity and power for positive change as it does for other people in society. Telling their stories is an important step in encouraging other women.
If you would like a copy of ‘Heather and Maureen’s stories’ just send us an email with their names in the subject line to firstname.lastname@example.org.