Each year on March 8th we celebrate International Women’s Day – a global day when we honour the economic, political and social achievements of all women. This past Sunday we saw different regions celebrate women’s achievements and call for greater equality. A diverse range of activity connected women and those celebrating them from all around the world. This activity ranged from political rallies, to business conferences, to government activities, to online engagement and much more.
This year’s theme for International Women’s Day was ‘Make it Happen’ and in keeping with this theme, there are many women within the Community Living sector who are ‘making it happen’. One of these women is Judith Snow, a longtime advocate for disability rights. It has been said that you cannot be in her presence without experiencing a shift and seeing new possibilities for yourself and others. Her entire life is dedicated to making a difference for people all over the world and she does this work out of a background of being labelled disabled herself.
In 1980, she became the first person in Canada to receive individualized funding from the government in Ontario and following that, she developed a model that puts government funding directly into the hands of the people who need the support.
Judith now consults and leads workshops on peace and inclusion, person centered planning, personal assistance, support circle building, family support and inclusive education. Her goal is to foster an understanding of how people with disabilities can be full participants in all communities. She explains how “People are always contributing something. The work is to see the value and potential in what they are contributing and build that through relationships into community and economic opportunities.”
Judith is also a faculty member with the Asset-Based Community Development Institute. Along with John McKnight and other faculty members, this Institute has fostered a fusion of community development and inclusion that allows citizens to benefit from diversity in grassroots community settings internationally.
Highlighting her powerful and passionate nature, I’ll leave you with one of my favourite quotes from Judith: “Our gifts are rare, and that is good. But, as difficult as our bodies and minds can be, their very uniqueness brings strength and positive challenge both to we who live in these bodies and minds, and to society — when we are appreciated, respected and celebrated.”