Twenty-two disabled women activists from Sub-Saharan Africa, Asia and the Pacific, Eurasia, Latin America and the Caribbean, and the Middle East and North Africa convened for the 9th international Women’s Institute on Leadership and Disability (WILD), held July 13 – August 3, 2019. WILD is MIUSA’s signature exchange program on disabled women’s leadership.
A Diverse Delegation
To date, over 242 women from 84 countries have graduated from the WILD program.
Selected from a pool of over 300 applicants, the 2019 delegates represented Albania, Armenia, Bangladesh, Burundi, Cambodia, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Jordan, Kenya, Kyrgyzstan, Malawi, Mongolia, Myanmar, Panama, Philippines, Romania, Sierra Leone, Tanzania, Turkey, Uruguay, Vanuatu, and Zimbabwe.
These activists, representing diverse disabilities, brought expertise in fields such as law, policy, business, human rights, youth empowerment, education, health, media, HIV/AIDS, and violence prevention.
Building Capacity as Leaders
Embracing the “Loud, Proud and Passionate®” theme, WILD women moved forward in their personal and professional roles as community, national and world leaders. Through a series of intensive seminars and site visits, delegates focused on using the media, implementing policy and legislation, networking with international allies, and improving employment and educational opportunities. Delegates also participated in team building activities such as an outdoor challenge course and river rafting, and learned about U.S. culture by staying with local families.
One of the unique components of the WILD program was the Gender, Disability and Development Institute (GDDI), where WILD delegates met with representatives from international development agencies. From July 22-25, this innovative retreat engaged participants in direct dialogue about strategies for including women and girls with disabilities in development projects throughout the world.
Words From WILD Women
Envisioning the impact on her work, an activist from Malawi who has a physical disability shared her motivation for participating in the program:
“Women and girls with disabilities are often overtly excluded from [international development] programs, or do not participate due to discrimination, lack of accommodations such as sign language interpreters, lack of accessible transportation, inaccessible facilities and materials, etc. Women with disabilities often do not have access to information about the services, and may not believe that they can, or know that they have the right to participate in these programs.”
An activist who is blind and from Albania adds:
“Having the possibility to interact with different strong women united by the same goal, I am sure I would have the chance to learn from amazing women, who just like me, are fighting to improve themselves and make an impact in their communities.”
Thank you to our WILD Sponsors!
University of Oregon Foundation
Teach a Man to Fish Foundation
Division of Equity and Inclusion, University of Oregon
Zonta International Foundation
Lane Community College
St. Mary’s Catholic Church
Wesley Center Foundation
WILD is also supported by individual donors who contributed to MIUSA’s Women’s Leadership Fund, as well as many local organizations, businesses, homestay families and volunteers in Eugene and Springfield.