Last night, on 8 March I took time to reflect on what was International Women’s Day. A day where organisations share messages promoting gender equality, marketing agencies are targeting women with promos reinforcing unwanted stereotypes and we all wonder ‘what about the other 364 days of the year?’
My International Women’s Day started off like any other day, to the point that it wasn’t until my husband mentioned it that I even realised what day it was… Does that make me a bad feminist?
Throughout my morning intake of news and social media I was bombarded with companies giving themselves praise for the quantity of women they’d hired, and interviews with experts about how we can close the gender pay gap and what needs to be done to increase the ethnic diversity of women in employment. All very important topics. Not once did I see a celebration of disabled women, or a mention of how disabled women compare to their non-disabled peers when it comes to employment, income or positions on boards.
The women who I am proud to call peers, role models, friends, colleagues and fellow bias breakers. The actions of these women have helped pave the way for my generation to have a seat at the board table, ensured our voice is listened to in staff meetings and our medical conditions are taken seriously by health professionals.
I know that we have a long, long way to go but if it wasn’t for the actions of these women we’d be facing challenges that I am scared to even think about.
I quickly whipped together some content for our Instagram feed which was positively received, but it did not do these wāhine any justice. So today on Attitude Live we are celebrating the incredible women who are change makers, mothers, employees, employers, daughters, and in positions of power and influence. Women who are doing everything they can with the capacity they have to break the bias.
Here are a few of my favourite stories of these women, women who are carving the way, supporting their peers and living their lives with the additional cost of disability.
Dr Huhana Hickey - She’s a household name in the disability sector and well known in the political realm too. A firm advocate for disability rights, Dr Huhana is not afraid to go into bat for our community. She has a strength and conviction that many of us aspire to.
Lusi Faiva - Being described as a ‘ground breaking performer’ is more than appropriate for Lusi. There are very few people who can tell stories through dance that have the ability to draw in a whole audience leaving them empowered yet challenged.
Shaz Dagg - I’d just started working at Attitude when her episode aired, and I found her confidence and determination refreshing. I often have to challenge myself with the question of ‘who am I really doing this for?’ but Shaz had this clear determination to achieve her goals with the Coast to Coast for herself, not for any doubter, any fellow competitor or spectator but for her!
Robbie Francis - Probably one of the most selfless, self aware and humble people I have the pleasure of knowing. Robbie is one of those individuals who is aware of her talents, her drive and her influence, and uses in a way that is creating a long lasting impact on society both within the disabled and non-disabled communities.
Denise - I wish so many more of us, particularly women, lived our lives with the confidence that Denise has. Instead of conforming to the way in which society expects us to live, Denise confidently and blatantly ignores stereotypes, pressure and expectations to ensure she creates a life that suits her.
I know this is the smallest snapshot of women in our community, and there are so many more stories you can find on this site.
Here is to an International Women’s Day in 2023 where ALL women are acknowledged in company recruitment strategies, statistics of ALL women are questioned collectively and ALL women are in a position to have their stories celebrated… Maybe then on 8 March 2024 I might wake up with awareness and enthusiasm about what day it is.