Maryangel Garcia Ramos, the founder of Mexican Women With Disabilities, advocates for policy and legislation that advance rights for women with disabilities. Maryangel has a neurological condition called Foix-Alajouanine that affects the spine. She started using a wheelchair at the age of fourteen.
In 2017, Maryangel represented Mexico at the U.N. Convention on Rights For Persons With Disabilities. She participated in a panel discussion on Sex, Women, Beauty and Disability at South by Southwest (SXSW) in 2018. Maryangel attended a discussion on women and television at the SXSW festival where she called out the executives of well-known television companies for not including people with disabilities in their television shows.
Maryangel lives in Monterrey, Mexico. She admits she is not the average person living with a disability in Mexico because she has always been in a position of privilege. Maryangel says she has always had a strong supportive family, running water, electricity, access to technology and more. She continues by saying many women with disabilities in Mexico face challenges of accessing healthcare and education. “But if someone [less privileged] had a situation like mine, their access to public health and physical therapy would have been limited. They probably wouldn't have had personalized, steady health care. In rural communities, it's super hard for them to get to cities where the big health centers are,” says Maryangel.
Transportation is also an issue for accessing education. Maryangel states, “You need transportation to go to a school that is accessible for people with disabilities. Then how do you prepare the teachers to make sure they're actually giving the same knowledge and opportunities to students with disabilities?”
“The machismo that is ingrained in Mexican and Latin American culture adds an extra layer of complexity to the work we do. Women are not supposed to be better than men at work or in leadership. [It's worse] if you have a disability. [Men think], "poor you, you're not can't do this because you're not able to."”
Maryangel believes the biggest misunderstanding of disability is the conception of what disability is. “People instantly think that a person [with disabilities] is broken or missing something — that as humans we are not complete,” she says. People with disabilities want to challenge stereotypes and show people that as human beings we are all different. To do this, Maryangel says representation is key. Representation in media and law.
Maryangel says the most frustrating thing about her work is when decision-makers do not include people with disabilities. Therefore, Maryangel’s non-profit Mexican Women With Disabilities is working on having every state have at least one woman leader with a disability. “They will help us reach our three objectives: push policymakers to create laws [that create more opportunities in education and the workforce for people with disabilities] see more representation of women with disabilities in the media and get data,” says Maryangel.
Best of luck to Maryangel with continuing her advocacy! Make sure to check out the original article.
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