My first six months as Executive Director of Women Enabled International have been incredible. I am so grateful to our global community for warmly welcoming me and being so generous in sharing your time and expertise to help me acclimate to my new role.
One thing I was happy to learn, as I shifted from advocating for gender and disability rights on a national and regional level to the international level, is that this movement exists in our disabled voices and truly feels like a community. Our greatest challenge is to bridge connections across diverse genders, disabilities, cultures, and contexts to keep pushing for disabled leadership–but given the opportunity, we always show up for each other.
These last few months, we’ve been able to be together in person again–jointly advocating with our partners before UN human rights experts in Geneva, sponsoring and speaking at events as part of the annual Commission on the Status of Women conference in New York, and convening the WEI Board for its first-ever in-person retreat. While COVID taught us not only how to keep our work going through virtual-only meeting spaces–and in many ways improved accessibility for feminists with disabilities around the world–these recent meetings affirmed for me the distinct power of face-to-face connections.
It’s such an exciting time for WEI as we are in the middle of formulating a new 5-year strategic plan, and I am looking forward to all of the ways we will be working closely with our colleagues and allies to continue advancing rights at the intersection of gender and disability. Together we will build on our past progress and chart a path to a future marked by disabled feminist leadership, cross-movement solidarity, and organizational sustainability.
Maryangel Garcia-Ramos Guadiana