‘A PwD activist has a two-fold objective: in addition to being involved in activism in general, they should also act as self-advocates, says Esma Gumberidze, Georgia’s youth delegate to the UN, a young European ambassador and a CAT participant.
Esma, visually impaired, represents a community of people with disabilities. Since her student years Esma has been interested in social problems. She is a blogger focusing on problems that people with disabilities encounter in Georgia. In addition, Esma hosts a radio program and is busy with various campaigns. Since 2017 she has been a member of Public Defender’s monitoring council for the promotion, protection and implementation of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.
Even though she was active before her enrolment in the CAT program, Esma says the program has helped her ponder upon issues that she did not give much consideration. ‘The program has given me a lot. I have come to rethink my role in society and acknowledged the role that even a single member of a protest rally plays.’ She reflects that as a CAT participant her interest in protests has beefed up to the effect that she delivered a speech at one of the wide-scale civic protest rally. ‘I can say that I have become more actively involved in protest rallies… CAT has been one of the ways that enabled me to gain experience and knowledge about movements, outstanding activists and their achievements. However, what is the most important today, it has spared me time to think about myself and realize that at times getting a side perspective of an issue is far more important’.
It is noteworthy that in the course of the project implementation as well as after its completion, Esma shared her thoughts in a blog that is available at our webpage (https://www.catprogramme.org/e-journal/stories-from-cat-alumni/).
As an alumna of the CAT program Esma continues to actively promote the rights of persons with disabilities. In 2019 she was selected as a representative of the Georgian youth to the UN. Esma spoke at the session of the third committee of the UN General Assembly focusing on the urgency of including persons with disabilities in social, political, economic and cultural life. Speaking on behalf of the youth of Georgia Esma touched upon challenges that persons with disabilities residing in conflict affected places have to deal with.
Several months ago, Esma and likeminded activists founded Platform for New Opportunities, an organization for women with disabilities. ‘Currently we are active only as volunteers. However, the emergence of a group of women with disabilities who bring up disability related issues, is far more important’, says Esma.
Currently the organization has been working on recommendations for legal amendments concerning the rights of persons with disabilities including aspects pertaining to granting a disability status to persons with disabilities.