Advancing disability rights and leadership globally®

“Sometimes it’s hard to be a disabled woman leader,” began Susan Sygall, as she opened “Women with Disabilities Lead!”, a virtual gathering of women with disabilities from four countries.

“Sometimes it’s not simple and people don’t always listen to you or respect you. But together, we are a community of strong disabled woman leaders. Here, we want to share our experiences. We want to learn from one another. We all want to gain the knowledge, the tools, and the ideas for advocacy, because we are the ones to make the changes for women and girls with disabilities in our communities.”

It’s with this appreciation for community in mind that MIUSA, with support from the National Democratic Institute (NDI), brought together emerging women leaders with disabilities from Zambia, Malawi, Nigeria and Kenya between the ages of 18-35 to participate in a virtual training designed to advance leadership, expand networks, and foster community among emerging leaders.

From a whopping 400+ applicants from Zambia, Nigeria, Malawi, and Kenya, 28 finalists were selected based on their status as emerging leaders with diverse disabilities and identities, their high potential to influence change in their communities, and their passion and enthusiasm about the leadership and rights of women and girls with disabilities.

The training of four sessions, which took place over two weeks in November 2023, addressed topics ranging from advancing women’s leadership and mentorship, to disability-inclusive emergency response and recovery, to professional development, and more. Participants valued the opportunity for conversation, sharing experiences, challenges, and success stories with one another.

The virtual training owes much of its success to the four Gender, Disability Inclusion and Access consultants from each of the four participating countries. Not only were they instrumental in recruiting and selecting participants and advising on the structure and other details, but they co-led each session to share their professional expertise and personal experiences. Many of the participants expressed their deep admiration for what the consultants had already accomplished for themselves and for their communities.

Although the Women with Disabilities Lead! training has since concluded, MIUSA looks forward to reconnecting with the graduates in a virtual reunion this spring!

“The program has rekindled a flame with me, the urge to be the change I want, to fight for disability rights and create awareness. Interacting with other women leaders made me feel a sense of belonging, that I am not alone in this journey and I have people to look up to.”

– Women with Disabilities Lead! participant from Kenya

Advancing disability rights and leadership globally®

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