Inclusion Specialist at The International Foundation for Electoral Systems
International Relations Major
Every day is different. I travel a lot for this job, which is great. When I’m here in DC, I’m often writing or coming up new training modules, or I’ll provide more direct technical support to election management bodies that want to increase the way they’re including persons with disabilities in the conduct of elections. When I’m in the field, I’m running trainings, meeting with government and civil stakeholders, doing that kind of thing.
I recently led an advocacy training for women with disabilities in Nepal. It’s very rare for women with disabilities to have their own space to talk about issues that are important to them, especially to talk about barriers they might experience when they participate in political life. Just being a convener of that kind of space—where they could talk about the intersectional and unique barriers that they experience—is really meaningful to me.
I think the biggest challenge when you’re starting out in a career is learning to listen more effectively to other people and to be more responsive.
Women with disabilities often encounter stigma and stereotyping that limits their participation, so they might not want to go out and, let’s say, join a party or vote or do any of the other many political activities that you might do. But it doesn’t just come from them — it also comes from society’s ideas about what their role should be in political life.
I think the biggest challenge when you’re starting out in a career is learning to listen more effectively to other people and to be more responsive. I think that’s especially true in this line of work, where there are many opportunities to facilitate trainings, to be a connector between people who may not otherwise have a chance to meet. It’s important not to take up that space yourself, but instead to make it possible for other people to bring their perspectives to the conversation. — March 1, 2019 • Photo by Brooke Sietinsons