Costa Rican Workshop Held to Strengthen Women with Disabilities
By Luis Fernando Astorga Gatjens (firstname.lastname@example.org)
The Workshop to Strengthen Women with Disabilities was a good occasion to review the double discrimination, for being women and for being women with disabilities, and to design support strategies.
This activity was held on December 3 to 7, 2002, at Hotel Villas Zurquí, San Isidro de Heredia, about 3 miles North of San José, the capital of Costa Rica.
Twenty-five women, having diverse disabilities and from different parts of Costa Rica, participated in this event which was organized by the Costa Rican Forum for Human Rights of Persons with Disabilities.
As in a previous Seminar on Cultural, Social, and Political Strengthening of Persons with Disabilities held in Costa Rica on December 2001, this workshop was supported with the active participation of the Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund (DREDF) from the United States.
The workshop was part of the activities organized by the Costa Rica Forum for Human Rights of Persons with Disabilities to celebrate December 3, the International Year of Persons with Disabilities.
An accessible bus was used to take participants to the workshop
Interview with Workshop Organizer
With the purpose of knowing more about the goals and scope of this training activity, Disability World spoke with Catalina Devandas Aguilar, Vice-president of the Costa Rican Forum for Human Rights of Persons with Disabilities and responsible for organizing this event.
Why a workshop to strengthen leadership for women with disabilities?
We must start by saying that women with disabilities always have to confront many forms of discrimination. Sometimes because we are women, other times because of the type of disability we present, and on other occasions a combination of both.
In general, we have to deal with higher levels of discrimination than men in similar circumstances. This situation makes us more vulnerable and creates more obstacles to our full development. It is harder for women with disabilities to obtain jobs, we are denied our right to motherhood, to freely enjoy our sexuality, and to be beautiful. In this context, to generate the knowledge that women with disabilities have rights that must be respected, defended, and promoted.
What were the objectives of El Foro for this activity?
In the first place, we wanted to stress the need to study the particular conditions of women with disabilities in our country.
Secondly, we wanted to provide training for women with disabilities, seeking to increase leadership and self-sufficiency, for the defense and promotion of human rights, particularly our own rights.
In the third place, we must generate more leadership participation of and among women with disabilities, within the social movement of persons with disabilities.
Were there any characteristics required for participation in this workshop?
We wanted diversity. The ages of the women ranged from 19 to 60 years of age. All were from different academic, social, and economic conditions, and came from all parts of our country. All of us are women with physical, visual or hearing disabilities.
We were able to work and share as a wide and diverse group, which included women with disabilities who were single, married, and even mothers. All of us had to be women with disabilities, either active or potential leaders.
What were some of the main aspects developed during the activity?
This was the first activity of its kind and orientation held in Costa Rica. It was also the first time that that a group of women with disabilities came together, and were able to share our mutual concerns, doubts, insecurities, frustrations, and hopes. We had the opportunity of sharing and moving ahead in personal and collective growth.
Finally, it is convenient to emphasize the symbolic presence of the moon. Within the context that we elaborated, there is our identification with this celestial body and its influence on Earth: "At any of its phases, the moon is always complete and it controls the tides... We are changing the tide."
What can you say about the main results of this workshop?
First, we were able to define a political agenda of the women with disabilities of Costa Rica. This effort includes an assessment of our needs as women with disabilities within the wider background of disability rights.
Second, we are promoting the creation of a feminist movement within the Costa Rican Forum for Human Rights of Persons with Disabilities.