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National Women’s Equality Day and the Disability Community

Santa E. Perez, Chair of the Nevada Governor’s Council on Developmental Disabilities

What is it like to be a woman in America on National Women’s Equality Day?

I think about all the women who came before me in America. They are our founding Mothers. They had to fight so hard for our equal rights, and the fight goes on. Women had to fight to be equal in every aspect of life, work, play, social justice, family life, the right to choose over her own body, etc. We as women have an important part to play in the fabric of America. No longer are we thought of as porcelain dolls or fragile. We have proven that women can do anything that our minds are set to do. 

I am saddened that not all women in this world have the same opportunities the women in America possess.

The right to work for equal pay. Women with disabilities make much less than women without disabilities, sometimes sub-minimum wages and society say it’s Ok. Even when they are well educated, have an impressive resume, employers will not even look at you.

The right to get married. There is a marriage penalty for two people to get married if they have a disability.

The right to have children. It is frowned upon when a woman with a disability has a child. Society expects you to deny you womanhood. The biggest you can’t, that I heard, was becoming a mother. People would say “you can’t” or “it won’t be easy”. And you know what? It wasn’t easy, but that doesn’t mean that I had to forget my dreams. I am a woman and I had that equal right to be a mom. Of course, It wasn’t easy. I had to find my way of becoming the best Mom I could be for my son.

I have to admit, things are getting better for women in general. Our voices are getting louder, stronger as they should be. And still, we have a long way to go, especially for women with disabilities. I like to see all types of diverse women shown on TV and in the media.

When The National Association of Councils on Developmental Disabilities asked, who is representing women with Developmental disabilities, there were none. Women with disabilities are a part of the biggest minority group in the world. And yet, we are still fighting for our equal rights. 

I pay homage, to the women that came before, especially the women with disabilities. I embrace my womanhood!