Activist Festival 2020

By Alice Mander

Activist Festival, is a brand new event aimed to bring people with disabilities together, to improve the lives of eachother.

The Disability Rights movement has been around for a very long time. It may look different to how it started, yet people have always been advocating for disabled people’s rights for much longer than we often think. So, it can be frustrating to see statistics like the ones in the recent CCS report on the state of wellbeing and equality for disabled people, their families, and whanau. This report puts what we already know into numbers. Disabled people under 65 are almost 2 1/2 times more likely to report not having enough income than non-disabled people. Disabled people have less affordable housing. They are twice as likely to report being discriminated against and are more likely to say it is difficult to be themselves in New Zealand. They are more than twice as likely to report having a lower life satisfaction. And there are many more areas of disparity revealed in the full report.

"Disabled people under 65 are almost 2 1/2 times more likely to report not having enough income than non-disabled people."

The report gives rise to a harsh reality, and poses a difficult question. Are we-disability activists- actually achieving anything? And, the short answer? Of course we are. The fight for equality is a long and difficult one, and reports like these should only act to mobilise us to continue the fight, not discourage us from the battle. However, there is merit in asking questions of ourselves, and to wonder why the disability rights movement doesn’t seem to have as much traction outside of our own community as other social movements have. When is our year? Where is our hashtag moment? Who are our modern day heroes and leaders? How do we come together and fight the system, as opposed to fighting each other?

A graph showing that disabled and the elderly tend to experience more discrimination.
Some minorities experience more discrimination than others.

These questions are why I’m so passionate about the project I’m working on over the summer months. I’m lucky enough to be working with the disability activist organisation ImagineBetter on the Festival for Activists, Advocates, and Allies to be held in Wellington in February 2020. This three day event aims to answer some of the questions I have posed, and hopes to create a brainstorming space where we can learn from other disability activists- as well as activists from other social movements- to get this movement to hit the ground running.

It’s going to be a fun filled three days in the world’s coolest little capital city. We have top quality disabled performers lined up; panellists with some of the greatest minds and activists of the nation; speeches from leaders like Paula Tesoriero and Mojo Mathers, and heaps of time to get to know one another during social events and workshops.

While we still have a long way to go to get where we want to be, we can do it. But, we have to do it together.

Sign up to the event here:

You can read the CCS Report at the link below

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