I was asked what is that one limitation I wish women didn’t have to face. Trust me, I’ve never been asked a more difficult question. It took me an entire day, yet, I couldn’t come up with one limitation because there are just too many, all of them being so relevant, so real. The very fact that I wasn’t able to narrow down the list to one limitation speaks volumes.
“You shouldn’t allow your daughter to come home late at night. You know, she’s a young woman with a disability after all.”
“Are you sure you want to wear a dress as short as that? I mean, you’re already on a wheelchair. You wouldn’t want to take in all that attention”
“You should’ve continued your studies via correspondence, it’s not very safe for you to go out all alone every day.”
As a woman with a disability, I face double discrimination, almost every day. Of being a woman and of being disabled. Sometimes the discrimination is as explicit as literally spitting on me and as in above-mentioned verbatims. While the other times it’s so subtle that one doesn’t even realise the discriminatory behaviour.
To put into one article all the instances of gender-based discrimination and/or the double discrimination experiences is very hard. Even harder is to explain the mental health issues and all of that self-doubt I, as a woman with a disability, went (and sometimes still go) through.
Nevertheless, I believe the world isn’t all cruel. Even though it looks dark and hopeless, there will always be a ray of hope at the end.
So, this women’s day, I thought of thanking my ray(s) of hope, all the people who constantly help me fight the patriarchy and shatter all the stereotypes.
Most of the credit for the kind of woman I am today, goes to my family. As hard it has been for me, I know it has been for my family too. And not only have they been resilient throughout, they have made me resilient and strong.
I have seen my parents shattering the stereotypes and it is through them that I have learned to break societal norms into pieces. For instance, I would have guy friends coming over in the night, and everyone except my parents would have a problem!When I reach home late at night, my parents never mind. Almost everyone in their lives discouraged them to let me pursue my education and gain independence, but they refused to listen to all of them. They worked so hard, made me work hard, and I even got into my dream college!
My younger brother, though, doesn’t express much, has also always got my back and even keeps suggesting savage replies for people who are mean to me!
I have heard this saying all my life, but only got to truly understand it when I entered college and met some amazing women in and outside of college.
It sounds funny but I was almost surprised when I first met my friends at college for they were so inclusive, so supportive and so empowering! They make me feel safe and inspire me every single day to be a better version of myself. They’ve helped me make my dreams come true.
And it’s not just my close friends, classmates I’ve rarely interacted with have been extremely supportive and inspiring. It was our department trip last month and all these lovely girls made sure that I go to every point. They somehow even made inaccessible places accessible on that trip! It was so beautiful! I never feel out of place when with them. I see strength in all of them and feel so empowered!
As much as I want to thank these people, I want to put across the message that social support is important. When I get exhausted of everyone for being disrespectful and/or discriminatory to me, I find solace in these people. I want to say it loud and clear that being empathetic, non-judgemental and supportive is important. This women’s day, let’s move past of all the stereotypes and create a safer place.