Jan 21, 2015
September 4th 1991, the day was beautiful in Stockholm, Sweden. I went jogging with the dog in the morning. Biked to a riding lesson. I did not know that my steps into the riding stable would be my last. Was this a horse that did not like me? Was it annoyed by something during the lesson? Whatever the reason, she threw me. The fall was hard, my back snapped. I could no longer feel my legs nor move them.
A life paralyzed living in a country like Sweden was difficult but would have been more difficult in many other countries, if I had survived at all. Without antibiotics I would have died within a couple of weeks as many other persons in developing countries with spinal cord injuries. My luck was to live in a country with good medicine and good rehabilitation.
But I was to find that my life had many limitations. There were many limitations as the society was not very accessible. Better than many countries, but not as good as others. I could no longer hop on any bus; ride any train, shop in my favorite shops. I had lived in several countries, but as a white, middle class American with an education, I had not experienced discrimination. But in a wheelchair I realized that our societies exclude many, as they are not constructed with a universal design – a design for all.
This realization and the fight for personal assistance making it possible to live an active life brought me to disability politics. I joined the Independent Living movement that claims the right to personal assistance for those in need, lobbies to close institutions for the disabled around the world and now for the ratification of the UN Convention on the rights of people with disabilities.
I have realized how the disabled are among the poorest of the poor in any country! I see how women and girls with disabilities, as women and girls in general, have a harder life not having the same access to education, employment and to society. Disabled women need to be empowered! We need to share our experiences and become stronger together.
What better way to reach many women than through the modern communication of social media? World Pulse provides an online space for women, so women can transform the world! To share our stories gives inspiration and strength, an empowerment that makes us strong together. An employee tipped me of this network, a young lady who herself sees the possibility this media provides. That is networking, and the flow is now an energy that cannot be stopped!