“I never thought I had the courage to carry out this role”

“I never thought I had the courage to carry out this role”

“When I first commenced my role here as Head of Women with Disabilities Forum (WWDF) I was afraid that I would not have the courage I needed to effectively carry out this crucial role. What I have achieved now is far beyond my wildest expectations and I am so happy that being restricted to a wheel chair has not stopped my passion, commitment and drive to support all women with disabilities.” Mrs. Sieng Sokchan commented when meeting with ACCESS team and the Australian Embassy Delegation.

Mrs. Sokchan’ spine was damaged by a bullet when she was 11 years old. She stopped attending school, and was sadly discriminated by her family members as well. Unfortunately, her mother also passed away. She is currently bringing up two children on her own.

In 2012, she was elected to the Head of WWDF with 299 total number of members, and with 168 persons with disabilities. Her organisation works to promote rights of persons with disabilities, women empowerment through supporting vocational skills, implementation of livelihood activities such as sewing of souvenir bags and COVID-19 protective masks and raising awareness about physical accessibility, and gender-based violence.  “I’m very passionate about my job and I am committed to supporting women with disabilities by raising awareness of their problems, their requirements, and ensuring that their rights are strengthened and respected across the society. As a person with a disability, I always put myself in their shoes and I believe I can better understand what they require”.

The Australian Government through ACCESS program works with government counterparts and various Implementing Partners (IPs) to support sustainable services for persons with disabilities and women affected by GBV. WWDF has positively benefited from ACCESS’s IPs to improve their entrepreneur skills such as budget planning, marketing, digital promotion, vocational and physical accessibility trainings.

“I truly believe that the ACCESS program has contributed towards decreased levels of discrimination on me and other persons with disabilities.” Mrs. Sokchan proudly expressed her gratitude to the Australian Government for providing such timely and suitable support.