Blind World Magazine

Why society should not write-off disabled women.

December 13, 2005.
Fiji Times.

A SHORT film depicting why society should not write-off disabled women as incapable and why it should instead focus on their abilities was launched yesterday.

Look at my abilities - Access to Life is a film put together by the Fiji Disabled People's Association's women's committee with the help of fem'Linkpacific, a women's activist group.

In the film, several local disabled women talk about their struggles with a society that fails to accept their disabilities, saying that did not make them totally incapable.

Women with disabilities were women first and disabled second and they should be respected like any normal women in society, said the association's president, Angeline Chand.

Partially blind Sainimili Tawake said most people still felt differently towards women with disabilities.

Mrs Tawake said disabled women were pitied and thought of as being helpless and unable to take care of themselves or another person.

But, she said, she managed to have a family of her own and she loved looking after her children.

Mrs Tawake, who is from Kaba, in Tailevu said, "when it comes to the community, people just sort of think I'm a person with visual impairment and I'm not able to things and sometimes they don't agree with things that I am doing. This is because they do not think that I can do it or will be hurt.

"But they fail to understand that I am perfectly capable of doing it if they give me the chance to prove my self."

Another member of the committee with visual impairment, Naomi Underwood, said support from family was an important aspect in the life of a woman with disability.

Ms Underwood said if it had not been for the support from her family during her early years she would not have been where she was now.

"As we know, culturally, we women in the Pacific are often discriminated against just because we are women."

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