On the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women*, we gathered at Oranienplatz to protest against gender violence, colonialism, patriarchy, genocide, occupation, imperialism, dictatorship, and oppression. This protest was organized by the Alliance of Internationalist Feminists. We expressed solidarity with Palestine and joined our queer and feminist siblings in Palestine in their call to stand with the Palestinian resistance against displacement, land theft, ethnic cleansing, and their struggle for liberation. Grace from IW*S held a speech representing all women and girls with disabilities. Watch/read the full speech below: 

My name is Grace, I am from International Women* Space. On this day, I am going to be representing all women and girls with disabilities. On this day of International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, I am joining the voices of all women speaking on all forms of violence. 

Despite all of us living in the 21st century, people with disabilities have been left behind financially, socially and politically in many other aspects of life.

I face uncountable forms of discrimination for example; the basic human right to shelter. Everyone knows how difficult it is for anyone to get housing in Berlin! 

Public transport is inaccessible most of the time. Currently, there are 35 broken lifts in Berlin’s train stations and even those that are working, I am forced to move faster than able-bodied people because most of you don’t take the stairs and lifts but prefer taking priority to use them.

To think that someone who is entrusted with my on-road safety, healthcare or sanitation can turn on me simply for having a disability scares me. It could be one wrong hour, one wrong route or one wrong driver that sends me to the hospital, police station or mental institution.

I cannot count the number of times I have been forced to cancel plans and go home simply because I was stuck inside or outside a train station. 

My Schwerbehindertenausweis is not enough to prove my disability. Despite being born this way, I need to prove that I need a new wheelchair and it takes more than a year to get a new replacement in Berlin. Do you ever get to plan for a broken leg, a phone or car malfunction? That’s not all. I need to renew my Schwerbehindertenausweis every year yet my disability does not change. 

Without a wheelchair, it means I cannot go to shower, brush my teeth or even go to the kitchen to fix myself a meal. How about human decency? I have no privacy and I risk injury for such a basic human need as going to the toilet to pee or even changing my pad. How would you like it if you had to rely on someone else for something so basic and yet so natural?

As a small-bodied Black woman, receiving aggression from any abled-bodied person is scary but it’s ten times scarier when it’s a man. I cannot begin to imagine the struggles of refugee and migrant mothers with special needs kids because despite all of that, they have to learn a completely new language, maneuver German bureaucracy, deal with racism/ xenophobia among other challenges caused by checking this box.

I won’t sit here and say disability is a life sentence, because it is not.

Disability is a club that anyone can join. You are all one bad fall, one accident, one disease away from joining my world. Even if not that, the older you get the frailer your body becomes therefore you will need the world to be more accessible. It’s high time you stop calling it ‘their’ issue and embrace the implementation of a more inclusive world.

I stand with all people with disabilities around the world fighting any form of violence and injustice. As my heart bleeds due to my own challenges, it bleeds with and for you too.