International Womens’ Day this year is focused on thinking about how we can bring balance to the world; how can we make equality happen?
Equality is something we’re pretty keen on as Trailblazers; we want to see a day when disabled people do not face the preventable day-to-day red-tape “Who put that step there?” no-go moments we all know a little too well and can just get on with doing their stuff.
To do this right, we cannot forget that the key issues that disproportionately affect disabled women must be understood and tackled. Barriers need smashing, and I feel lucky to know some truly kickass barrier-smashing disabled women.
First shout out has to go to Michaela Hollywood, who started the Trailblazers trailblazing. It takes guts to start a network of hundreds of disabled people that has been solving society’s problems for 10 years and is still pushing for change.
The next has to go to the mother of the campaign of the past year, Fiona Anderson. Her change.org petition asking the NHS to improve access to smear tests after being refused by her GP as they did not have a hoist. The petition gained over 100,000 signatures, won over the national press, and got a response from the Under Secretary for Public Health & Primary Care. The lack of access to basic medical assessments in a quick and easy fashion affects all disabled people, but through Fi’s lens as a disabled woman, telling it how it is and showing why it’s important, a key equality issue has come into focus.
Note: Need a smear test or other medical check or treatment? The NHS cannot refuse you on the grounds of lack of experience or equipment without making an attempt to sort something; a reasonable adjustment is required by the Equality Act 2010. They have to try to find a way, maybe in a different clinic or with a different professional. If they say “nah, dunno”, tell us!
Shout out to Lauren West, Emma Vogelmann, and the rest of the MDUK office squad who are constantly arranging meetings, talking to politicians, training campaigners and young people, asking for ideas, pushing us to try new things, checking progress on old campaigns, keeping the social media alive, getting people motivated and up to date. Keep the energy going, you’re awesome!
Loving the bloggers and writers out there at the minute. Whether is restaurant reviews, ludicrous loos, perfect parodies, hospital diaries, daily dramas… keep writing ladies, we’re reading and we’re learning and you’re brilliant!
High five to anyone reading this. If you’re reading a Trailblazer blog, then you care about equality and nothing happens without that passion. Make it happen!
So that’s the who: Michaela, Fi, Lauren, Emma, the squad, the bloggers, you, me, everybody…
… but what’s the what? What do we need to do to make equality happen, over and above traditional campaigning?
Over the past years and months, what’s struck me most are the ways we support each other. We share a set of experiences as disabled people and disabled women, and from there we build understanding of each other’s and our own individual experiences. From this shared understanding, we can keep each other going, swap facts, congratulate and commiserate, even just be there wherever there is, and remember that we’re building a better world for us to live in right now, not just in 20 years’ time.
We can individually knock down barriers one by one, or we can team up and hit harder. Politics, law, and hardcore campaigning makes change happen. But so do music playlists, telly recommendations, and adorable kitten GIFs.
To all my crew out there reading this: You got this.