At this year’s Bridging the Gap for African women workshop in Kampala Uganda, a woman and her companion sat quietly on the sunny side of the room.
We had a lively Question and Answer session and it was my job to pass the mic around the room and she was the last person I handed the mic to.
The woman said
I am a visually impaired woman and I would like to thank the organisers of this event for gathering us here today to deliberate issues that affect women. May I however ask that in future you please include disabled women in such conferences as out voices are often left out. I waited ages to be handed the mic whilst everyone had their say
There was a deathly silence in the room, then sighs of pity, embarrassment and a huge applause.
As the convener of the workshop, I was dumb founded and had some soul searching to do. I don’t charge an entrance fee and anyone is free to attend, so why is that women with disabilities are not at these workshops.
But I did wonder if I could have done more to ensure that women with disabilities are aware of the workshops and can get to them for instance by reaching out to groups and organisations that work with people with disabilities.
I share this story with you because a few days ago I got into a Twitter conversation with a fellow Ugandan that left me wondering whether the extent to which attitudes towards disability has moved on.
Here are the screen grabs of that exchange
The Serena is indeed a major hotel and conference centre and it came as a surprise to me that a female wheel chair user had to be carried over the steps while mostly male journalists looked on and some ever took photos.
And here are the actual photos extracted from those Tweets
Where is the dignity in this?
I would like to hear your views in this. Have attitudes towards disability in your country changed?