Miss Ability to Miss Disability???
Recently I had the opportunity to catch up over phone with one of the participants of our YWTC Trust’s basic course in screen acting. Her name is Vasundhara, founder of Weave Media, a commercial organization which supports their clients in event management, capacity building and campaign strategy. Vasundhara has done her PG Diploma in Mass Communication and Journalism and initially tried to work at some media houses. In spite of her qualifications and passion, Vasundhara was not given any opportunity to appear onscreen because she is a wheelchair user. After several failed attempts to get her seniors understand that her disability needn’t be an obstacle in her career, Vasundhara decided to start her own organization.
Today she is an enthusiastic and passionate entrepreneur. Most of her events are for those who are not disabled. She also conducted one beauty pageant for women with disabilities. She called the event “Miss Ability” to showcase to the world the abilities of women with disabilities.
In our time together over phone, Vasundhara was pointing out the unconscious bias she faces all the time. When people invite her to speak at events, they feel the need to put her into a framework that works for them, but isn’t close to reality at all. Rather than talk about her company, they focus on all her work with persons with disabilities. They even rename her beauty pageant and announce that she won a prize in Miss Disability contest!
At some level, it seems society cannot accept a woman with disability as an entrepreneur whose organization works for everyone not just for Persons with Disabilities (PwDs)? Why can't they accept her as an organiser of the event and not just as a winner of the event?
Society still can’t recognise that PwDs can be successful in any space, not just in the restrictive space set by them. We’ve come a long way….but we’ve got a long long way to go still…