Spokespeople available for interviews at EDD18
Media Advisory by Light for the World
Powerful female spokespeople with disabilities from India and Cambodia available for interviews at the European Development Days in Brussels (5th & 6th June):
• Disability and Gender Rights Activist who advocates for inclusive Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR)
• India’s first-ever disabled stand-up comedian, using comedy to extend her activism
• First disabled woman to speak at an EDD closing panel as civil society representative (link to event)
- After being diagnosed with an incurable irreversible eye disorder at age 15, and through her own experience of being a woman with a disability, Nidhi developed an awareness of issues of gender discrimination against women with disabilities
- While going blind, a formative experience was when her father’s friend, a doctor, suggested that her father hide her eye disorder from the world because in three years’ time she wouldn’t have lost too much of her sight and he could then, without disclosure, marry her off when she was legal.
- „Once the world knew that a girl was blind, no one would have her; as if marriage is the ultimate goal as if consent and choice cease to exist if you are a disabled woman. My father didn’t give in to the pressure but not all girls or women with disabilities are as fortunate as I am,“ Nidhi says.
- After abandoning her childhood dream of becoming a portrait painter, Nidhi went on to study and receive her postgraduate degree in mass communication
- she then dived into the world of activism to work for the betterment of the situation of women and girls with disabilities who are often invisible to and in society
- She became a strong activist for the Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights of women and girls with disabilities, fighting stereotypes of female roles in society
- Nidhi started stand-up comedy to create sensitization about disability, gender, and sexuality-related issues and became India’s first-ever disabled comedian
- Today, she is raising awareness and striving to improve the lives of women and girls with disabilities by working with several organizations and in several roles, e.g. she was appointed to the UN Women Executive Director’s advisory group and sits on advisory boards of Voice and AWID.
- She has recently founded her own organization “Rising Flame” and works through research, training, campaigns, art, and advocacy
- Nidhi about her own life and work as an activist: https://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/nidhi-goyal/sexual-rights-disability-indian-women
- BBC World Service: https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p060x664
- On her work as an activist and comedian: http://in.one.un.org/blogs/incrediblewomen/nidhi-goyal-comedian/
- TEDxTalk: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pAiWqJs3MSU
- *High-resolution images of Nidhi are available
• One of the few female disability and gender advocates from Cambodia who overcame barriers to empower other women with disabilities to become changemakers
• Program Liaison Officer of Light for the World coordinating a unique pilot programme* that builds leadership capacity among women with disabilities in Cambodia, empowering them to raise their voices
• Speaker at EDD18 session 6th June, 14:45, “Woman on the rise - Social protection and self-employment empowering women with disabilities to take the lead” (link to event)
- Sreynak has a disability herself and has experienced extreme discrimination in her daily life
- Growing up in a very poor family about 20km from Phnom Phen, Sreynak has dreamed of advancing her education and has striven to overcome the manifold barriers that disabled women face.
- Sreynak was one of the first 25 women to participate in a unique leadership programme for women with disabilities in Cambodia, led by Light for the World, where she has gone on to coordinate the programme and empower other women with disabilities. She has become a disability and gender advocate herself
- “I have been sharing the knowledge from the Women with Disabilities Leadership (WWD) Programme with self-help groups and other disability trainers during training/meetings. Having something to share means motivation and empowerment.”
*Women with Disabilities Leadership Programme:
Light for the World's programme combines training, (peer) mentoring and a small grant facility for women with disabilities to set up their own projects, which together have a great effect on their leadership skills, as well as on other women in their communities. As women with disabilities in Cambodia are often excluded from all areas of society, this project intends to enable them to speak for themselves and raise their voices. Many women with disabilities in Cambodia do not work and have only limited economic means and possibilities of participating in societal decision-making processes. The accessibility of schools, employment and politics are very limited for women with disabilities. Furthermore, violence against them is a pressing issue. There are only a few social protection schemes, and those that are available are hard to access.
*Women on the Rise Session at the European Development Days (Wednesday, 6th June, 14:45H) organized together with the EU flagship initiative Bridging the Gap
The session tackles the intersections of gender, disability, social protection, human rights, and economic empowerment. Speakers will share country-level experiences on how reliable social protection and access to work contribute to the empowerment of women with disabilities to become the driving force of sustainable development in their communities and local economies. The session addresses the experiences of women with disabilities in low and middle-income countries.
*High-resolution images of Sreynak and the Cambodia leadership project are available
For interview requests, please contact: Marianne Fobel, +44 7802 789640, m.fobel [at] light-for-the-world.org