By focusing on making our work equitable, CBM ensures that people are provided with the resources they need to meet their specific needs.
On International Women's Day (IWD), CBM highlights the plight of women with disabilities. They face discrimination and have less access to many areas of society, including education, health and economic opportunities. At this year's IWD 2023
The term "equity" refers to fairness and justice and is different from equality: While equality means providing the same to all, equity means recognising that we do not all have the same starting point and must acknowledge and redress imbalances.
"While progress has been made, women and girls with disabilities still face challenges big and small. We need to keep talking about these challenges. We need to remain aware of what needs to be done and not become complacent, because change will not happen on its own," says Friederike Loosen, the representative of employees with disabilities on the CBM staff council.
CBM demands that:
- Personally: support the development of leadership opportunities for women with disabilities.
- Politically: create a strong global voice for women with disabilities.
- Strategically: ensure that development policies and programmes are inclusive of women with disabilities.
Embracing Equity at CBM
"On this International Women's Rights Day, I especially call for the inclusion of women with disabilities in our communities!
My name is Eboahun Amelevi, I am physically impaired on my left foot due to childhood polio. I am married and a mother. I have been working at CBM Christian Blind Mission as a finance officer since January 2016. I have my driving licence and can move around independently. I am fulfilled!
Because my family and friends were committed to my inclusion yesterday, despite my disability, this is a pillar of my self-confidence and enables me to fully enjoy my human rights today. I am grateful for God's grace in my life.
Today, in my position at CBM, I am proud to be involved in implementing projects that promote equity, and integrate and empower persons with disabilities.
All of us need help, but that does not make us vulnerable, it makes us human. I am proud to be part of this community of workers with disabilities. Therefore, I do not expect pity from others, but acceptance, understanding and conviviality, the joy of living in a community. I call on all persons with disabilities, especially women, to stand up and be actors of their own social and financial well-being and their autonomy at all levels."
When Women Succeed, Society Thrives
CBM's work is inspired by women like Stella Mbe-Mbo a painter from DR Congo and Verena Bentele the president of Germany's largest social association, VdK.
Both women know only too well what it means to have equal opportunities that help you develop and achieve full independence.
CBM works with both women; Verena has been a CBM Ambassador since 2008, while Stella is a beneficiary who now participates as a mentor in a CBM project in Kinshasa. Our programmes not only include persons with disabilities but also recognise that people have different abilities. By focusing on making our work equitable, we ensure that people are provided with the resources they need to meet their specific needs.
46-year-old Stella is a painter - she has neither arms nor legs. The mother of five children learned art at a CBM-supported vocational centre for persons with disabilities. She also received a wheelchair and financial support to diversify her sources of income, because painting alone is not enough to meet the family's needs.
Now Stella trains other persons with disabilities in art painting in her home. She wants to help them become financially independent.
Verena, who has been blind since birth, is a successful biathlete and cross-country skier. She has won 12 Olympic gold medals at the Paralympics alone and is a four-time world champion. Despite her successes in a society that offers opportunities to persons with disabilities, Verena is not blind to the discrimination faced by women with disabilities in developing countries such as Togo, where she has visited projects run by women with disabilities.
In her position as president of Germany's largest social association, VdK, Verena campaigns for social justice and reducing the gap between rich and poor. It is also important to her that no one is disadvantaged or excluded because of a disability.
According to the UN, two-thirds of women with disabilities live in low- and middle-income countries.
They are denied access to education, are three times more likely to be illiterate than men with disabilities and do not have equal participation in social activities or access to sexual and reproductive health and services.
Equity for all women, including women with disabilities, has a positive impact not only on the woman herself but also on her children, her family and her society. An empowered, educated and economically stable woman moves everyone around her forward.