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women with disabilities - thoughts

Emilia, my mother in an improvisation workshop. May 2012. photo by khulud kh (c)

I recently participated in a group of women with and without disabilities. It’s funny that I have a disabled mother – three and a half years passed since her CVA, yet until I participated in this group, I never made any connections.

The feminist movement I am familiar with has not made any major steps to include women with disabilities in its activities or even in its discourse. Only recently we initiated some discourse in Isha L’Isha about it, and held the first group of women with and without disabilities.

It’s strange, since in feminism, we advocate for the full and equal rights of marginalized and invisible groups. Women with disabilities have never taken any space in my life. Not until my mother suffered her CVA. But even then, it was something very personal. I had to deal with a completely new reality all of a sudden, in addition to reversal of roles in the family. I guess I was so busy in daily coping with this that I didn’t have time to connect it to something broader.

But now I’m glad I’m beginning to make the connections. The group process is now over, but the themes brought up, and the women who until then were invisible even to me – are taking up space in my thinking process.

It’s clear to me that this is only the beginning. Recently I’ve taken interest in photography, and since it coincided with the disabilities issue, it’s naturally pulling me in that direction. I volunteered to help in the PhotoVoice part of the research that Isha L’Isha is planning with group participants, and I’m looking forward to it. I’m also thinking of doing some small project with my mom with PhotoVoice. So far, disabilities have not appeared in my writing, but I know they will. It’s a process – I can’t rush it and can’t force myself to it. There’s no need. There is a time for it to happen naturally. And I know it will. In what form – fiction, poetry, or non-fiction, it doesn’t matter. It will come out in its own form.

And finally, I hope that the action initiated by Isha L’Isha will bear fruit and that through our awareness-raising activities, more feminist and other social change organizations will start working on issues of women with disabilities.

(c) khulud kh, June 2012

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