6 diverse women panelists speak on inclusion of women with disabilities

The Australian Government’s support to the AWID’s 13th International Forum, Feminist Futures: Building Collective Power for Rights and Justice, supported Pacific women with disabilities to participate and engage with a powerful gathering of nearly 2,000 women from 120 different countries.

AWID, under the leadership of its president Myrna Cunningham (and DRF bridge builder advisor), has pushed for the involvement of women with disabilities in the Forum. The hope is that the Forum has created a ripple effect that will open the women’s movement – including women’s rights funders –to be more inclusive of women with disabilities at the national and global levels.

Leona Tamainai is passionate about the development of the deaf community in areas of employment and education.

She has been actively involved with the Fiji Association of the Deaf since its establishment in 2002. Their focus has been to conduct advocacy on the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD).

Kelera Ledua Taveta is president of the Psychiatric Survivors Association of Fiji, the only mental health group in the South Pacific.

They are active in peer support, advocacy, and community awareness about mental health issues. When she was diagnosed with a mental illness, she isolated herself at home and was hospitalized several times. Through the Psychiatric Survivors Association, she attended capacity building workshops on mental health and volunteered for outreach awareness. She empowered other members to come out of their shell by sharing her own personal journey. She says, “Mental illness can happen to anyone, it is just like diabetes or cancer. Even with mental illness you can live a normal life and it doesn’t have to end here.”

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