12.03.15

Sinead Kane

Phd Researcher and Solicitor

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” I believe in being resilient and turning setbacks into comebacks”

Sinead Kane is a Phd Researcher in the School of Education at Dublin City University. She is studying a teacher’s legal duty of care concerning school bullying inside and outside of school. Sinead completed her law degree (BCL) and masters in law (LLM) in University College Cork. Sinead is also a: Qualified Solicitor, Certified Mediator, Writer with the Irish Criminal Law Journal, Motivational Speaker, Ultrarunner.

Sinead can be found online at www.sineadkane.ie and tweets at @kaneSinead

Because I am a Girl I ask … why are women with disabilities not visible in leadership positions such as law, education, politics, business, media…..I look forward to the day where there is more visibility to highlight to young girls that barriers such as disability and gender can be overcome.

Because I am a Girl I believe … in the importance of honesty, integrity and not being afraid to stand up for what you believe in. I believe that education is the most important tool for independent growth. I believe in being resilient and turning setbacks into comebacks. I believe that adversity is not hardship it is the means by which we can learn life lessons.

Because I am a Girl I hope … that women with disabilities are given the same choices and opportunities as other women and men.

Because I am a Girl I wonder … about how solutions can be achieved for women all around the globe with disabilities who face “double discrimination” because of their disability and their status as a woman.

Because I am a Girl I dream … of a flexible career which allows me to determine when my working day ends. A career which will allow me to make a positive difference in people’s lives.

Because I am a Girl I remember …as a child being bullied by my peers because of my disability. I remember other girls who ignored me and I felt very isolated. I remember as I went through my teens I found I was not expected to have adolescent feelings of sexuality or wish to wear pretty things. A disabled woman was a neutered sexual being and a dependent on society. I remember children and adults who didn’t have belief in me. I remember at 17 years of age my career advisor telling me not to study law because I would never be able to manage because it was a reading based subject. Despite her thoughts I went onto to gain a law degree, a masters in law, qualify as Ireland’s first visually impaired solicitor and also qualified as a mediator. I remember I worked hard at school but never felt good at anything and this began to undermine my confidence. My disability restricts me only to the extent that if I want to achieve something, I have to work twice as hard as an able-bodied person. What I do achieve may not be perfect but I persist and do not give up.

Because I am a Girl I like … having my independence. I am not dependent on any man nor will I ever be. I am a strong, confident woman. I like my surname and don’t see why women feel pressure to change their surname to a man’s surname upon being married.

Because I am a Girl I dislike … knowing that girls in developing countries face further challenges than women in developed countries. Women and girls with disabilities – whether physical, mental, intellectual, or sensory – are often hidden in their homes, denied the right to be married, to attend school or get a job. I also dislike bedgrudugary by other women. the constant pressure placed on girls and women to look, behave or act a certain way. The styling, airbrushing, headlines, commentary, judging and yes I have even been guilty of it myself.  This judging is especially experienced by girls and women with disabilities who have ‘different’ bodies. Often they feel pressure to change how they look and experience great pain in doing so.

Because I am a Girl I feel … people with disabilities can be denied the right to participation in society, by being absent from education, the workforce, media and politics. They are often prevented from voting, standing for election to public office, and civic participation. Stereotypes about the ability of people with disabilities to make decisions are further barriers to political participation and having a voice, while exclusion from society can lead to isolation and neglect. I also feel the most important facts that some people seem to disregard is that although physically different, mentally I am not disabled. I share the same hopes, anxieties, fears and general emotions with women the world over. Many people have supposed that because I am obviously disabled I am mentally sub-normal and have therefore treated me as they would someone of low intelligence or as a child.

Because I am a Girl I celebrate … my ability to be an advocate for myself and other people. I celebrate standing up for myself and fighting for my rights. I celebrate having self-belief in myself and not allowing others trying to take away my self-confidence. I celebrate having a positive mindset. I couldn’t control being born with a disability but I can choose how I live my life. I choose to be visionary not blind. I celebrate the greatest gift you can give yourself is self-acceptance.

The views expressed in all blogs, are those of the authors only and do not necessarily represent the views or policies of Plan Ireland

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