File photo: Marcel Oosterwijk, Flickr.com

POLOKWANE - After realising that most disabled women in rural areas have extremely limited opportunities and often suffer from a lack of self-worth, a local company which strives to empower disabled persons has set about hosting a beauty contest for disabled women.

The event, to be held in the Vhembe district in Limpopo province, as part of the women’s month celebrations in August, is set to be the first of its kind in the region.

Uafhindula Lalamani of the company Unique Me, which is organising the event, said: "Our main motivation for hosting the contest is to empower our disabled women, as we believe that the contest might open doors for them. Many of them are sitting at home, despite having the ability to become models. This contest will change all that, as after this they will be having many opportunities to make a career out of modelling."

He said the contest was an opportunity for disabled women to be exposed to a side of life they do not normally see, and to build self-belief and confidence within themselves.

“This contest will benefit our disabled women in future, as we believe that it will build their confidence and expose them to the right places and people who could help them to achieve their dreams,” said Lalamani.

Many disabled people in rural villages within the Vhembe district are neglected, while others are denied their rights to proper health care and education by being kept hidden away by their families, who often do so out of a sense of shame. 

Despite some of the disabled people in the province having qualifications, many say they are still overlooked when they apply for jobs.

The contest is set to take place on August 11 in Thohoyandou and participants will be women between the ages of 16 and 35 years, all with various disabilities.

“When we celebrate women’s month, we must not only celebrate the achievements of able-bodied women. We must also celebrate the achievements of our disabled women. We believe that though disabled people are given opportunities, most of them lack self-belief and are fearful. That is something we need to work hard on to help them to overcome,” he said. 

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- ANA-Health-e News