I was honored to deliver my speech called “A woman’s take on intersectionality through the lens of disability” to Abercrombie & Fitch in celebrating Women’s History Month and I highlighted the many women of our past who also have disabilities in common like me. Women such as: Frida Kahlo, Maya Angelou, Helen Keller, and Judy Heumann.
These women who have made it into our history books who refused to be invisible and have shined their light brighter because of their will to be seen and heard. These women inspired me on my path of advocacy today.
Intersectionality is the reality that people are complex with multi-faceted attributes that make up who they are. Disability is included in this and is just one part of a person’s identity but does not by any means define them solely.
I am a woman. I am a white woman, who comes from an Italian/Hungarian immigrant background. I identify as she/ her/hers. I grew up in a middle-class family with a lot of love. My mom passed away when I was seven years old from leukemia so my siblings and I were raised by my dad and by my Granny.
Because of my mom’s early death, I struggled in many ways, with reading and writing in school as a little girl. I missed out on the tender loving care that only a mother can give.
I missed out on the gentle guidance from my mother on how to date, cook, put on make-up, do my hair and all the other things that women have traditionally done together.
On top of that I missed out on her guidance on how to grow from a little girl with a disability into an empowered woman. I am physically disabled and am a wheelchair user and to quote the great Lady Gaga, “I was born this way.” Most may consider my disability as complex and severe, but for me, it’s just who I am.
Intersectionality is a term coined by Kimberlé Crenshaw and she is famous for saying:
If you see inequality as a them problem or an unfortunate other problem that is a problem.Kimberlé Crenshaw
Intersectionality is how a person’s various marginalized identities work together to impact a person.
With today’s current initiatives where advocates are pushing forward Women’s rights and gender equality. Girls and women with disabilities remain invisible among those who are advocating for their rights, resulting in these girls and women remaining marginalized and excluded in society. I sit here today motivated to encourage all girls and women to be LOUD and to be pioneers to the visibility of each and every one of your many layers of identity.
Find your strength in all of them!