Most of us enjoy walking the sands of the Marina beach but for women like T. Mageswari and M. Lalithambigai it is a laborious task.
“Walking with callipers or crutches on the sands is impossible as we have to adjust the crutches all the time,” said Lalithambigai. “If only the government paid a little attention to our needs and could provide a facility for wheelchairs,” she added.
These women are participating in the ongoing three-day workshop being held in the city. The women are demanding a barrier-free environment, such as disabled-friendly toilets and access to parks, beaches and temples where they do not have to spend much money.
“We cannot go out anywhere because public places are inaccessible. There is a toilet for the disabled in the Koyamabedu bus terminus but it remains locked,” said Mageswari, who has polio.
P. Aruna Devi, who is visually impaired, trained as a DTP operator and now runs a tailoring centre for women with disabilities in Taramani. She said she started an institute as she did not get a job despite her qualification. These women, who are office bearers of the State Forum for Rights of All types of Women with Disabilities, have organised the workshop with the aim of bringing together around 11 lakh women with disabilities across the state and sensitise them about their rights.
The forum wants three per cent reservation for women with disabilities in government jobs and qualification-based employment as a right instead of being given some job to satisfy the criterion of filling up quotas and doubling the educational grant to girl students to ensure that they do not drop out.
“We have demanded that the government construct an old age home for the severely-disabled women as most of them are abandoned by their family,” Aruna said.
One of their demands is that a man who marries a woman with severe disability should be assured of a government job according to his abilities. “This would encourage more men to marry disabled women,” said Mageswari.