Deaf Life8th March 2015

Deaf Ladies Reflection On International Women's Day

In heralding hopes for the future, IWD is a good time to look back to get inspiration for the fights ahead

by Sarah Lawrence

International Women's Day (IWD), also called International Working Women's Day, is celebrated on March 8 every year. The focus of IWD range from a general celebration of respect, appreciation and love towards women, to a celebration for women's economic, political, and social achievements. In the UK, many women only dinner events are held, with high profile inpirational women giving keynote speeches and presentations to inpsire women to be bold and ambitious in the future. 

Started as a Socialist event, IWD blends into the culture into many areas. This is especially the case across Europe. In other regions, however, the political and human rights theme designated by the United Nations runs strong, and political and social awareness of the struggles of women worldwide are brought out and examined in the hope that things might change. Some people celebrate IWD by wearing purple ribbons.

Deaf Women in the past have helped to shape the world in which Deaf women live today. Without these tencious and determined women fighting for Deaf women's rights, things might be very different, so we must reflect and thank them for driving change and opening up the opportunities we enjoy today.  

Dorothy "Dot" Miles (1931–1993) was a poet and activist in the Deaf community. Throughout her life, she composed her poems in English, British Sign Language, and American Sign Language. Her work laid the foundations for modern sign language poetry in the US and UK. She is regarded as the pioneer of BSL poetry and her work influenced many contemporary Deaf poets.

Helen Adams Keller (June 27, 1880 – June 1, 1968) was an American author, political activist, and lecturer. She was the first deafblind person to earn a Bachelor of Arts degree. The story of how Keller's teacher, Anne Sullivan, broke through the isolation imposed by a near complete lack of language, allowing the girl to blossom as she learned to communicate.

Speaking to some Deaf friends and acquaintances about IWD from a Deaf women's perspective, this is what these ladies had to say to me.

"Take a moment to reflect and celebrate achievements and accomplishments made so far!" Suzette Jordaan from Suzie Cakes

“To think it is exactly three years today that my business was launched. Deaf women can run their own business just like you and me.” Linda Day from Signworld 

Former president of the World Federation of the Deaf (WFD), Liisa Kauppinen received the 2013 United Nations Human Rights Award Prize from the United Nations on Human Rights Day on 10 December 2013 in New York, USA. The United Nations Prize in the Field of Human Rights is an honorary award given to individuals and organisations in recognition of outstanding achievement in human rights every five years.

Drisana Levitzke-Gray was born to a line of Deaf women, and is the fifth woman to be Deaf or partially deaf. Her father is also Deaf, and she has a Deaf brother. Drisana advocates for deaf people and culture. She is a native Auslan. In 2015, she became Young Australian of the Year.

For me, the International Women's Day is important and it is a time to thank yesterday's brave Deaf women who have made anything possible today. I hope that today's Deaf women inspire future generations to achieve a lot more. A philosophy of 'DeafWomenCanDo' is essential. 

It is also a time to reflect on the past, on the barriers women have faced in the workplace and how women can and have played a significant part in all aspects of life. Forced into self employment myself 20 years ago, I know how tough life can be for women in the workplace, but dedication, hard graft and a positive attitude can be a winning formula.

Article by Sarah Lawrence

posted in Community / Deaf Life

8th March 2015