Today is International Women’s Day. A special day to celebrate women and girls all around the globe. It is a day to recognise the achievements of women without national, ethnic, linguistic, cultural, ability, economic or political division. We spoke to some of our young female wheelchair users to find the nuances of celebrating International Women’s Day, and being a young wheelchair user.
Being a young woman and a wheelchair user is an ‘interesting’ experience. As a woman I am really proud of how far we have come. If you were to compare where we are now to 100 years ago, the transformations is truly amazing. To think 100 years ago we barely even had freedom of speech, it is such a blessing that now in 2018 I am able to openly speak my mind and share my opinion on pretty much any topic I want.
However I won’t pretend everything is perfect. Take sports for instance. We all know about the pay gap between male and female athletes. Then consider the fact that disabled athletes generally receive less funding than their non-disabled counterparts. Does that mean that disabled sports women are the last in line in terms of pay and funding? If so then this is just creating a cycle that we must break somehow, but it is down to all of us. Men and women, disabled and non-disabled alike.
Another thing I often wonder about as both a woman and wheelchair user: when a man talks down to me, is he doing it because of my gender or my disability. I must admit, I have been in situations, particularly whilst using transport, where it has been obvious that I am spoken to in a certain way because I am a woman. Not too long ago I was traveling in a taxi with another male friend who also uses a wheelchair. The driver that daym made an extra effort to be super ‘helpful’ (patronising) when addressing me compared to my friend. I understand that this isn’t always done on purpose but after a certain amount of time it does get annoying. We have come a long way in terms of laws and policies but societal attitudes still need to change.
It’s been thought-provoking finding out more about International Women’s Day this year. It’s great seeing the leaps in terms of how far women have come. It’s crazy to think there was a time when women were not allowed to join the police force for example. I would definitely have had no chance, being a woman and a wheelchair user. I would have definitely have been expected to stick in the kitchen making sandwiches.
Things have obviously changed now with women getting more opportunities in the workplace but are we always getting the same recognition for doing the same amount of work as men? There are stories I read about constantly that make me raise an eyebrow.
On a day to day basis I have an issue with people speaking to me extra slowly like I am stupid or crouching down in awkward positions to have a conversation with me like I am a child. Little do people know I am actually going to university later this year. It does get tiring being expected to explain myself over and over again so sometimes I just let people think what they want and then laugh to myself afterward. It’s shocking how ignorant some people can be. Is this amplified because I am a woman in a wheelchair? Who really knows?