Women may be avowed wine-consumers, but only recently have they been receiving recognition as wine…
Clare Moore is not your stereotypical selfish millennial.
Her passion for advocacy and leadership has propelled her to the top of the game as the newly elected Chief Executive Officer of Women With Disability ACT (WWDACT).
“There’s a bit of a learning curve but thankfully the WWDACT board, namely Sue Salthouse, the chair, saw something valuable in my skills and enthusiasm so they brought me on board,” she explains.
As a woman living with a disability herself, Clare offers an alternative leadership style and emphasises the unique strength of people with disabilities.
“A lot of us are super resilient and tend to be out-of-the-box thinkers. We have to put up with inadequate support and still somehow function, so we bring a lot to the table but we can’t spend time explaining that to everyone.”
For Clare, the new role is an extension of her long-term commitment to helping out her peers, first at school, then at ANU where she worked for ANUSA and then as the student support officer at CIT. Through these positions and student groups, she specialised her interest in programs targeting students with disabilities.
“I got the advocacy bug,” says Clare. “It’s really fulfilling to be able to represent women with disabilities in general and help make systemic level changes.”
The new role at WWDACT provides her with the opportunity to continue her advocacy to affect change at a higher level. Clare’s keen interest in women with disabilities was sparked by her awareness of the greater challenges that arise at the intersection of women’s struggles and disability and the inflexibility of workplaces to adapt to them.
“Women with disabilities are far less likely than men with disabilities to get a job. But of course, as a whole, people with disabilities are far less likely to get a job. So it’s really hard to talk about the disadvantages of women with disabilities because you’re already a part of a disadvantaged group… It’s also worth remembering that domestic violence against women with disabilities is at a far greater proportion than the population as a whole.”
Clare explains that when women’s issues overlap with discrimination against people with disability, systemic and social disadvantage multiply. She seeks to promote advocacy about conditions specifically affecting women, which are widely overlooked.
“I really wish that more people realised how many women in their lives may have some form of disability… and are just still coping but they aren’t defined in our system. Issues of reproductive health for example like endometriosis, it’s a hugely disabling condition for people who’ve got it really badly, but because it’s a women’s health issue, up until recently it hasn’t been paid attention to. So statistically speaking there are more women with a disability than men with a disability in the ACT and it’s hard not to think that there might be a structural reason for that.”
Circumstances worsen for women with disabilities who feel obliged to maintain everyday responsibilities in both the home and at work. This leads to further disadvantage at a systematic level such as the National Disability Insurance Scheme.
“We know that there are far more men on the NDIS than women,” says Clare, suggesting that, amongst other factors, “part of that may be that they can’t dedicate the time to the applications.”
Clare’s work is gaining wider support attention, as is Clare herself. Deservedly, she has been chosen to partake in the ACT government’s Future Shapers Program designed to connect and advance Australia’s next generation of leaders. Through the program, Clare is looking to develop her local level advocacy to bigger picture thinking.
“It’s also about learning how to navigate the difficult space of leadership where you are surrounded by very elite people, very intelligent people, and sometimes they can judge you because of your disability. How do you overcome that without alienating people? How do you balance your disability and the leadership role? How do you face down people who might not believe in you?”
The Future Shapers program is an initiative from the ACT Government that offers support to promote young people affected by disadvantage into positions at which they themselves can effect change. In the meantime, Clare’s advocacy continues to be an inspiration as she shapes the future for women living with disabilities across the ACT.