Learning Leadership - Inspiring course for Women with Disabilities in Turkmenistan
Over fifty women with disabilities participated in a special 20-day course to promote social inclusion and greater engagement of people with disabilities in policy-making. The training was designed to strengthen the leadership capacities of women with visual and hearing impairments from the Deaf and Blind Society of Turkmenistan.
The participants were selected from urban and rural areas to increase the knowledge about their legal rights and to learn about the role and functions of democratic institutions, modern socio-economic-political processes and gender issues related to leadership.
The inter- active type of training was aimed at inspiring confidence of the participants to play a more active role in mainstream society, to realize their leadership potential and help to promote the rights of women with disabilities. The women also got the chance to upgrade their computer skills and improve their capacity to make the most of the Internet.
Trainees were provided with special computer programmes for visually impaired people to communicate through the Internet and a sign language interpreter was hired to meet the needs of women with hearing impairments. Each of the participants was asked to develop a plan to apply and share her new knowledge as volunteer and mentor for visually and hearing impaired women.
The Deaf and Blind Society of Turkmenistan shared information with the women leaders about its activities, challenges, perspectives and plans, demonstrated its facilities and organized meetings with the leaders of the Society.
"We came away with so many good things from the course," says 37-year-old Leyla, one of the project beneficiaries. "Above all, I think we all now have the motivation and skills we need to play a much more active role in disability organizations. One of the most important things for me was learning how to advocate effectively for the needs and rights of women with disabilities by developing skills in networking and presentation, including how to formulate and deliver key messages to stakeholders."
The 20 day course enabled the women leaders to forge new relationships with other leaders, professionals and researchers, including the personal relationship that formed amongst the 50 women themselves over the 20 day period.