Happy International Women’s Day! Today, and every day, we celebrate the incredible work that disabled women activists are doing across the globe. MIUSA is proud to share the current work our 2022 alumni of the Women’s Institute on Leadership and Disability (WILD) are doing around the world in more than 20 countries, including:
Bangladesh, Botswana, Brazil, Cameroon, Colombia, Costa Rica, Egypt, El Salvador, Ethiopia, India, Indonesia, Kenya, Mauritius, Mexico, Nigeria, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, and Vietnam.
After WILD in Eugene, these 23 leaders returned home to organize their own trainings using the principles of MIUSA’s WILD program. These in-country WILD trainings have brought together nearly 400 women with diverse disabilities across more than 20 countries, addressing topics such as women’s health, policy and legislation, and media and advocacy, and including empowering activities such as dance, yoga, and boat riding.
Today, we invite you to celebrate each of the 2022 WILD leaders with us on this International Women’s Day by reading about and sharing their work below.
WILD women are leading the way and changing the world!
In Bangladesh, Sharmin led a training on Policy, Legislation, and Advocacy for 20 women with disabilities, including a group follow-up session several days after conclusion of the training. One participant shared they “want to circulate what I learned today, so other women with disabilities can [benefit from] the training.”
In Botswana, Cathy organized a training for 25 women with disabilities focused on Policy, Legislation, and Advocacy, including an empowering Obstacle Course activity. Cathy noted because of this training, “ambassadors of the rights of people living with disabilities were created.”
In Brazil, Mila led a training on Leadership and Women’s Health, Wellness, and Safety, with a Collective Dance activity led by Capoeira Therapy Group. This training brought together 24 disabled women activists, with “almost all proposing to hold events in 2023 [as a result of WILD-Brazil]. Their enthusiasm was evident.”
In Cameroon, Arrey-Echi led a training focused on prevention of Gender-Based Violence, noted as a “crucial topic in the region” for women with disabilities. This training empowered participants through education, actions to take for prevention, and a self-defense workshop.
In Costa Rica, Susana organized one of the first trainings that prioritized women and girls with disabilities in the rural communities, an area where the spread of information is lacking. Focusing on topics of Women’s Health, Susana noted this training “represented the beginning of what I want to achieve for women with disabilities in Costa Rica.”
In Egypt, Rasha organized a two-day training for women with disabilities on Women’s Health topics, followed by an inclusive yoga session and group action planning session. As one participant noted, “I am more excited now to do something for our community, especially for women with disabilities.”
In El Salvador, Valentina partnered with a fellow WILD alumna, Jenny, to lead a 4-day training on Women’s Health and Leadership topics, along with a choreographed group dance activity. She reflected on the experience, “I realized my ability goes beyond my limitations and fears.”
The WILD-El Salvador training was also supported by the Australian Government.
In Ethiopia, Martha led a training on models of disability and rights-based language, with an empowering dance activity at a public outdoor park. One participant noted, “I never imagined myself dancing in the park. [Before today,] no one encouraged me to dance. It was a new experience for me.”
In India, Devanshi led a training focused on the rights of women with disabilities in various topic areas and the value of peer connection. She presented on her experience at WILD in Eugene, noting “we left as not only women with disabilities, but as WILD sisters: Loud, Proud, and Passionate!®“
Also in India, Punitha led a two-day training on Women’s Health topics for 38 women with disabilities in Chennai, noting the importance of leading these “taboo” discussions. She partnered with fellow WILD alumna, Smitha, to lead an empowering musical activity, including song and dance.
In Indonesia, Norma organized a full day of empowering team activities and leadership training for 30 women with disabilities in an outdoor park. Norma shared this training was like “getting a turtle out of its shell,” bringing powerful disabled women together for the first time.
In Mauritius, Aarthi led a media and storytelling workshop for 18 women and girls with disabilities, noting that all participants were energized by this training and “already looking forward to the next workshop.”
In Nigeria, Miyausa organized a two-day training focused on various topics related to Women’s Health, and brought 20 women with disabilities to a local park to experience an accessible boat ride. One participant reflected that this training “helped me to know my rights and understand the ways I can use my position to advocate for the rights of women with disabilities.”
In Peru, Pao led a training focused on Sexual Education and prevention of Gender-Based Violence (GBV), leading to several participants making commitments to take further actions, such as partnering with LGBTQ+ organizations and leading workshops for young people with disabilities. One participant noted, “very important topics were touched on that everyone should know.”
In Poland, Wioleta organized a self-defense training for 20 women with disabilities, resulting in many participants creating action plans to organize their own future workshops for other women and girls with disabilities. The self-defense training was informative and empowering. As one participant noted, they felt “a sense of female strength” and “feeling connected with women with other types of disabilities.”
In Rwanda, Esther organized a training on Women’s Health and Recreation, including a visit to a fitness facility. She reflected on the power of her WILD training, noting, “If 25 participants can react like this, how are the remaining women and girls with disabilities feeling? I would like to search for opportunities to link this project.”
In Sierra Leone, Kadiatu organized a training focused on Women’s Health and prevention of Gender-Based Violence (GBV), leading to the formation of a GBV Task Force that will continue to meet regularly. As Kadiatu noted, “participants were Loud, Proud, and Passionate!® about the WILD Sierra-Leone program.”
In Vietnam, Giang invited journalists and media professionals to meet with participants, sharing how to use media to empower other women with disabilities and to present their own skills. For many women with disabilities, this training was their first time learning about media and how to use it to increase the roles of women with disabilities in their organization.
MIUSA is proud to support the important and passionate work of our WILD alumni, who are changing the lives of women and girls with disabilities across the globe. Join us in celebrating them on this International Women’s Day!
Do you want to support MIUSA’s future work with powerful, disabled women? Donate to MIUSA’s Women’s Empowerment Fund here.
Sign up for our E-News