We are so grateful to our speaker, who gave her time to speak with us despite of her busy schedule.
Why it is close to her heart the advocacy about women with disability because she herself grows up with a disability with a polio at the young age of 1 ½ years old.
In her community, they treated her as who she was, but when other people came to their place, they are surprise why there’s a girl crawling on the street, but accepted her.
Her experienced going to school gave her an eye opener. There is discrimination among persons with disabilities. No teacher would accept her, thinking she might be a burden to their class. Her mother persisted and spoke to the teacher to accept her. Thus, she was bullied and teased.
She proved that she is anybody who could be respected and can take part like any kids in the class, does whatever she can because she believed there's no room for her to surrender to give up.
In her growing year, she has no wheelchair, and needs to stop school for 1 year. Good thing a wheelchair donated, to finish her elementary.
Unfortunately, her wheelchair didn't last. She needs to stay home and learn every skill she wants. For her teenage years, she never realised those 10 years of her life, that gave emotion, desperation and put an end to her dreams.
At 24, she searches her opportunity. She wants a life that she can control, not to be a burden to her family and aim her dreams to be fulfilled.
She went to a special school with a hope that they will accept her. Unfortunately, she was rejected. She talked to the Principal: "I can’t go home; I go home when I finished my study"
Then, she search and spoke to a Sister (missionary). A person who believed in her dream. She took an exam and passed, was sped up to 1st year college.
She did all the handwork just to finish her studies. She experienced hardship of being a woman with disability with a wheelchair.
She finished her college and worked. Now, she is an Advocate of Women with Disability.
What is your advice to parents if they have a child who still needs to grow and face discrimination?
"While they are young, they need to strengthen them, to treat them well like others. My Mother let me crawl in the street so I can learn and be strong so I know how to fight for myself."
As a Disability Rights Advocate Maam Carmen is committed to:
Change the way society perceived persons with disabilities from charity to human rights, to higher spiritual level.
Gather as any allies as possible to spread this advocacy, including persons with disabilities, their families, people working for/ with them and advocates
To change systematic barriers, break myths and false beliefs and promote full participation of person with disabilities.
If you like to learn more about Maam Carmen’s presentation about understanding disability in four model and four main forms of discrimination you may watch her video here: https://youtu.be/a7slLKmjy-M
I learned during our webinar, that person with disability are no longer object of charity rather they are "subjects with rights"
Mrs. Carmen Reyes Zubiaga is the founder of WOWLEAP in year 2000, the only active organization of women with disabilities with nationwide membership, with support from the Global fund for Women. It was recognized as the lead organization of women disabilities because of its active participation in consultants in policy and program development representing the voice of women with disabilities.
She is one of the popular Disability Rights advocates from the Philippines, who actively participated in the organizing and building the capacities of DPOs in advocacy, policy development and engagement with government organizations and international cooperation.
She founded several community-based organization of person with disabilities, including a national umbrella organization of person with disabilities and advocates called AKAPPINOY or the National Alliance of Filipinos with Disabilities in 2004.
She manages, DISABILITY RIGHTS ADVOCATES' CORNER Facebook group. It is for persons with disabilities, parents of children with disabilities and all advocates of disability inclusion, economic social and political participation. You can join here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/execdirncda