The place of women with disabilities in feminist movements

By Luke | September 20th, 2011

There are two distinct and seemingly parallel movements gaining currency globally. On the one hand we observe the feminist and women’s rights movement continuing to gather steam the world over, creating a platform and space where women can discuss their concerns while fighting the patriarchal system that continues to oppress them. On the other hand, the disability rights movement is also crystallising – spurred on in particular by the Social Model of Disability – and making inroads, as seen by the enactment of laws in several jurisdictions to ensure that disabled people are not discriminated against, especially women with disabilities. Although there is considerable overlap between these movements, which might lead one to conclude that issues affecting disabled women are being adequately addressed, this is not the case on the ground. This piece attempts to explore the possibilities for such an intersection, and to establish possible parameters for locating women with disabilities in the feminist women’s agenda. The article brings to the fore issues affecting disabled women and the barriers they face in participating in the feminist movement. It is hoped that, as a result, disability rights of women will be elevated on the global feminist agenda.

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