From Where I Stand: Cristina Francisco Reyes
EDITOR’S NOTE: THIS PIECE IS AUTHORED BY UN WOMEN AS PART OF THE SERIES “FROM WHERE I STAND”, WHICH CAPTURES PEOPLES STORIES AND THEIR DAILY SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT CHALLENGES FROM AROUND THE WORLD. SEE THE FULL SERIES HERE.
One of the main obstacles I’ve faced is that women with disabilities are stigmatized and labelled as ‘ill’, as being incapable of developing leadership, incapable of having an impact and influence on social changes, equity, our equality and our political participation. Today, so many obstacles still persist: the absence of information, the lack of support from family members and friends to enable them to participate in political processes—even to study and take different forms of transport.
One of my greatest achievements has been the creation of the Circle of Women with Disabilities (CIMUDIS) in the Dominican Republic. It started as the dream of three women who participated in an event as a recommendation from [the Fourth World Conference on Women in] Beijing and today it is a forum with more than 900 women, including young women and adults.
Goals can always be achieved and physical and attitudinal barriers will not succeed in stopping us.
The key to success in anything we do is persistence and knowing with certainty that we possess full rights and that if we are denied these rights, we must not only claim them, but also fight for them and for our convictions, until we succeed in making our dreams a reality. We must never stop dreaming!
Cristina Francisco Reyes, paraplegic since the age of 9, founded the Circle of Women with Disabilities (CIMUDIS), an NGO that advocates for the social inclusion, rights and equal access of women living with disabilities in the Dominican Republic, in all areas of life. UN Women does joint advocacy with CIMUDIS and its Fund for Gender Equality also funds ICT-related projects in the Dominican Republic. This work is related directly to Sustainable Development Goal 10, which aims to reduce inequalities by promoting the social, economic and political inclusion of all; while SDG 11 seeks to ensure sustainable cities and communities, including by providing access to green public spaces and accessible and sustainable transport systems for all, with special attention to the needs of women, children, persons with disabilities and older persons.