At the end of November 2016, I was invited to travel to Brussels to attend the European Day for Persons with Disabilities event
This European Day for Persons with Disabilities event celebrated the 10th anniversary of the UN Convention on the rights of persons with disabilities and was attended by people with all different disabilities, people who work within the area of disability and people in government relevant to the EU.
At this event I was asked to sit on the panel for the ‘Woman and Disability’ session. I was the first of 3 key speakers at this. I gave a talk about my life as a woman with who has both a learning disability and Cerebral Palsy.
Key points I discussed during my talk were the importance of including women with a learning disability in campaigns and using models with a learning disability such as Katie Meade (the first model with Down Syndrome to be signed up to a fashion campaign), and also Sarah Gordy who is included in the Mencap ‘Here I Am’ campaign. We need more of this to change the way people look at women with a disability and also to help women with a disability to know that they are pretty.
We are like any other women. We just want the right to have fun. I do think this is a FUNdamental right.
We just need more support to be safe and we need opportunities in place also.
I then moved on to talked around the issues of barriers that women with a learning disability may face such as low self-esteem, not being able to get the right information needed, transport, and how the law has made it harder for women with a learning disability to make friends or how sometimes we are denied our rights by not being able to have our own children due to having a learning disability.
I really enjoyed this experience, as I think this can help to enable people with a learning disability to have more life opportunities. I got so much out of the doing this. My hope is that other people with a learning disability will know that they could do this too. Also I hope that more people will give people with a learning disability opportunities like this.
I would like thank Rebecca Shea Irvine for supporting me before and on the trip, Maureen Piggot from Inclusion Europe for her support and thinking I could do this and Milan Šveřepa and Soufiane El Amrani, also from Inclusion Europe, for support on the day.
Also my family and friends, and my co- workers at Mencap for all the support they give me. They all play a part in giving me the confidence I need every day, and I could not be me without this.
This article was originally posted on the website of our member Mencap.