I am a woman with a disability living in a community where the perception about women and girls with disabilities it that they are “good for nothing”, they don’t need to go to school; but need to stay at home doing all chore waiting for the day they will be given away into marriage to a man who is not of their choice but the decision of their family. Some are even given away as a form of debt repayment owed by the family to a member of the community. These women/girls do not have a voice and no means to report on any form of violence they face. They are tortured and treated as liabilities, never giving them the opportunity to be empowered economically and financially. They do not have autonomy over their lives and cannot make decisions of their own.
As an empowered woman with disability and a leader, I take time to identify the needs of these women at all levels of the community, prioritize these needs and work in collaboration with everyone in the community to advocate for the rights of women and girls with disabilities. Through the use of digital tools like android and smart phones, iPads and tablets I educate them on the importance of having a mastery of your digital tool and connecting for self empowerment. I showcase my potential and role model my achievements like the UN-Women Empower Women 2016-2017 Champion for Change. I make them to see the positive impact of online volunteering in empowering me. How my story was published and the evidence they see in the change it brought to my life. I make them understand how by being a World Pulse March 2018 featured story teller I have been able to start a small income generating activity with the honorarium awarded to me. I empower them not just to use their android and smart phones to call but download apps like the World Pulse apps to connect to other women and professionals around the world that can give them life changing opportunities.
Today in my community, people have change of perception in all dimensions. Women and girls with disabilities have improved self-esteem and have come out of self stigma; community members right from the family level now see the need to respect the right to education for women and girls with disabilities. These women and girls now have the right to expression and decision and express the interest to have android and smart phones, ipads, laptops and other digital tools so that they can acquire skills for self empowerment, connect to other women and professionals around the world. Because they had not been to school, they have learned trades and have had difficulties in marketing their products. Right now they are able to create and manage face book pages for the sale of their products. They are gradually becoming economically empowered and can make their own decisions and are now involve in decision making circles. Due to change of perception by women and girls with disabilities and the community as a whole, these women and girls are now considered in every activity in the community. Their inclusion and participation is ensured and they are able to know that through the positive use of the internet one can break barriers of poverty, unemployment, stigma and marginalization.