On this day, we celebrate the hundreds of delegates from 89 countries who have participated in MIUSA’s Women's Institute on Leadership and Disability (WILD).
Last summer, MIUSA hosted the 9th International Women’s Institute on Leadership and Disability (WILD), which brought 22 women leaders with disabilities from 22 different countries to Eugene, Oregon.
Since returning home to their countries, each WILD woman has been organizing and leading her own in-country WILD training for women and girls with disabilities in their communities. To date, these trainings have reached an additional 440 women and girls with disabilities at the grassroots level. All trainings were cross-disability and included women with diverse disabilities.
“The training was an incredibly empowering experience to both organize and implement” shared Anush, a WILD Delegate from Armenia, “The participants were able to connect with other girls and women with disabilities and cultivate community and a network of support amongst each other.”
Today, we want to highlight a few of the disabled WILD women—who are passionate activists—infiltrating the fields of reproductive health, emergency response, and leadership training, and empowering other disabled sisters by promoting independent living, advocacy, disability rights, legislation, and more.
In the Philippines, WILD delegate Gina Rose, who is blind, led a successful training for 20 women with disabilities in partnership with the Center for Advocacy, Learning and Livelihood (CALL) Foundation of the Blind. This was the first ever training for women with disabilities in Laoang Northern Samar. Gina Rose is passionate about educating women with disabilities on their rights and preventing gender-based violence.
In her training, Gina Rose included a group disaster preparedness activity, in addition to other group-based empowerment activities, to foster teamwork and strengthen the network of support between WILD-Philippines participants. In her disaster preparedness activity, the Municipal Disaster Risk Reduction & Management Office (MDRRMO) shared ways that persons with disabilities can protect themselves and assist others during emergencies. The WILD-Philippines training also focused on promoting leadership of women with disabilities, through personal reflection and team-based activities, as well as presentations from current leaders with disabilities. This included a recorded video message from the CEO of an international non-governmental organization (INGO), who uses a wheelchair.
In Turkey, WILD delegate Beyza led a training for 18 women with disabilities in partnership with the Foundation for Women’s Solidarity. Beyza, who uses a power wheelchair, is passionate about advocating for the rights of women with disabilities. WILD-Turkey focused on topics of legislation and policy, with an emphasis on the right to independent living. This was one of the first trainings for women with diverse disabilities on the right to independent living in Turkey. As an empowerment activity, Beyza organized a yoga session for participants, led by Bhugi Yoga.
Another 2019 WILD delegate, Sidonie, led a successful WILD-Burundi training for 20 women with disabilities in Burundi in partnership with the Association Nationale des Sourds du Burundi (ANSB). Sidonie who is Deaf and uses sign language, is passionate about advocating for inclusive education for Deaf children and literacy programs for Deaf women. Sidonie’s training focused on women’s health, including topics of maternal health, HIV/AIDS prevention, and gender-based violence. WILD-Burundi participants worked together using props to learn about contraception and prevention, and to propose solutions to the current challenges women with disabilities experience in Burundi. As part of the training, Sidonie and other WILD-Burundi trainers organized a swimming activity to empower participants and strengthen the bond between them.
In Armenia, WILD delegate Anush who has a physical disability, led a training in partnership with Equal Rights, Equal Opportunities (EREO). Anush founded and currently serves as the President of EREO. WILD-Armenia brought together 20 women with disabilities, and focused on the impact of WILD and other international opportunities for people with disabilities. Participants were surprised with video messages from three other 2019 WILD alumni. Beyza from Turkey, Raluca from Romania, and Precious from Zimbabwe each shared their own personal WILD stories through recorded videos, which were presented to WILD-Armenia women. This training also incorporated several empowerment activities, including yoga, self-defense, and an art-based visioning activity for participants. WILD-Armenia was the first time self-defense training has been offered to women with disabilities in Armenia.
Another WILD delegate, Keorithea, led her in-country training in Cambodia for 20 women with disabilities. WILD-Cambodia was organized in partnership with Welfare for Persons with Disabilities (WPD). Keorithea, who has a physical disability, is passionate about policy change and educating people with disabilities on their rights. Her training focused on leadership, legislation, and policy, bringing in a guest speaker and sharing a video presentation from MIUSA about leading through international exchange. As empowerment activities, Keorithea and other facilitators organized a yoga session for WILD-Cambodia women and a traditional dance performance from a visiting group of women.
Today and every day, we thank and honor disabled women and girl activists and others, including allies, for their dedication and determination to ensure a more just and equitable world. Be Loud, Proud and Passionate!®
The WILD in-country trainings were made possible with the support of the Channel Foundation.