Monday, November 30, 2009

Bahamian woman try not to forget women with disabilities in quest for equality

From BIS:

NASSAU, The Bahamas -- Iris Adderley (pictured), Consultant, Disability Affairs reminded Bahamian women that as they celebrate 47 years of being able to vote, they must include women with disabilities in their fight for equality.

Women who have a disability face the same issues, concerns and gender biases, and they also desire the same things that women without disabilities want, she said during a recent interview at her office.

“What is it that women with disabilities want? We want the freedom and the right to participate fully and to be included in every facet of our society’s economic, political, religious, cultural and social life,” Ms Adderley said.

“We want accessible and affordable housing, we want the proper support services for our various disabilities, we want to be able to access the educational system, we want to be able to be employed as well as have a social life including the right to enter into relationships.”

According to global statistics, 16 per cent of all women are disabled, she explained.

The statistics also show that girls living with a disability are twice as likely to be sexually assaulted, and women with disabilities are more likely to be victims of violence and to be silenced by it.

In The Bahamas, women who have a disability to fight to be respected for their minds, Ms Adderley said.

“A lot of women with disabilities do not have ‘the look’. Our disabilities may have our bodies not shaped like a normal person’s body.

“We may have a limp or our hands may not be formed properly and those things make us not attractive to the public,” she continued.

The Government is working towards facilitating the needs of persons with disabilities.

The Department of Statistics for the first time will be asking questions for the 2010 Census that will help create support services and programmes for persons with disabilities, the Consultant said.

The data will present a better picture of the prevalence of certain disabilities including answering what the age ranges are for persons with disabilities; whether males or females have more disabilities; the types of disabilities males have versus females and the kinds of disabilities.

The information will also inform of the education level of persons with disabilities, their salaries, whether they are married, single or divorced, whether they were born with a disability or became disabled later in life, she explained.

This will take the guesswork out of determining the proper statistics concerning persons with disabilities in the country, Ms Adderley said.

“We know globally that 10 per cent of any population has a disability, so that means we should have 37,000 plus but we do not know that for a fact.”

“The Census will tell us whether we fit in with the global statistics or whether we are higher or whether we are lower and we will be able to say here is where our population stands.”

She added, “We might think we might have inordinate amount of persons who are blind but what we might find is no the highest population is the deaf.”

The statistics will stop us from guessing and it will also help us internationally because there are things we will be able to be qualified for that we may not be now, she said.

“A lot of times when you ask international organisations for help the first things they say is what is your stats and guessing does not work with them.”