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Living Empowered Sports

Monday, September 23, 2019 5:56:17 AM

As we stated in our concept note written together with our UN partners: The International Day of the Girl Child has been designated by the United Nations as a day to recognise the living empowered sports contribution girls make to our societies, promote their rights and continued empowerment, and advocate for an end to the injustices that millions of girls encounter every day. Working together has taught and empowered us all, and made the most of our combined competencies. This series of conferences aim at supporting global and national efforts to create a world free from discrimination, exclusion and violence against girls. The aim of the programme was to highlight the power and potential of adolescent girls in hard-to-reach communities who are living in conditions that prevent them from fully enjoying their fundamental rights — making them vulnerable to violence, abuse, exploitation and neglect.

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Interviews revealed the integral role athletic identity plays to offset the stigma of disability in their self-identities and in the complex relationships each has with social norms in regard to gender, disability, sport and the body.

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However, social institutions, including that of adapted sport, reinforce an ableist, sexist ideology that persistently marginalizes these athletes.

Critical inquiry involving disability still does not enjoy the status of that involving race, ethnicity and sexuality; scholars often work inside an invisible ableist paradigm Roher, ; Samuels, Further, feminist scholars have not responded to connections between critical inquiry involving the female body and the disabled body Garland-Thomson, ; Hargreaves, ; Rohrer, One feminist assumption that undermines the plight of women with a disability is the liberal feminist ideology of autonomy and independence as part of a broader "impulse toward female empowerment" Garland-Thomson, Yet, "if disabled people were truly heard, an explosion of knowledge of the human body and psyche would take place" Wendell, , p.

Scholars such as Rosemarie Garland-Thomson have rightly argued that incorporating disability into feminist scholarship "does vast critical cultural work" , p.

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See also Garland-Thomson, , Fine, M. The theory and praxis of non-disabled feminists is liberated as they shed their ableism Rohrer, I seek to interrogate my own ableism as I probe the experiences, attitudes and values of U.

Paralympian wheelchair basketball players. I want to understand how gender and disability intersect in self-identity and in athletic pursuits.

I seek to validate these athletes' perspectives as contributing to our understanding of sport and disability in ways that "malestream" social science cannot Thomas, , p.

What happens next is up to you.

Personal experience should be central to understanding women with disabilities Hargreaves, Narratives of the experiences of any research subject are mediated by the worldview of the researcher; thus, disclosure of a scholar's "positionings" is key Thomas, , p.

I am a white, able-bodied feminist who stumbled on disability sport also called adapted sport through meeting wheelchair athletes at a major university. I have no connection to adapted sport other than contacts in the field.

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Through discussions with athletes and advocates, I learned that able-bodied sports feminists such as myself do a disservice to women when we fail to address our own limiting ideology about gender and the body. The dynamics of disability and gender in U.

Disabled and able-bodied people lead segregated lives at least in part because of the stigma attached to disability, which pervades almost all relationships Hargreaves, ; Susman, People with a disability often internalize their shame and may try to mask their impairment as they accept the values that define them as being trapped in a negative body Brittain, ; Goffman, , ; Hargreaves, ; Susman, ; Wendell,

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