In the fall of 2009, two Houston visionary women advocates in the disability community came together and envisioned an event able to represent the collective power of women with disabilities. Houston based disability advocate/artist Maria R. Palacios and Dr. Margaret Nosek longtime visionary of disabled woman power, dreamed up a gathering for women with disabilities through which they could support one another and share the experiences and realities of living with a disability while empowering each other through: advocacy, art, access to healthcare and resources, educational workshops, recreation and disability justice.
The following October, through the partnership and support of other disability rights organizations, the then known Women with Disabilities Empowerment Fair launched its first event attracting almost two hundred participants –most women with disabilities in the Houston community whose presence let us know women with disabilities are hungry for information, hungry for opportunity, hungry for communication, hungry, for artistic expression, hungry for support, hungry for the chance to be part of society.
Every year since then, this event has given women with disabilities a voice and a venue where to bring their art, their experience, their stories and their truths. Year after year, disabled women in Houston have filled an entire gym with their art, their dreams, their advocacy and disabled woman power. They have filled classrooms where empowerment workshops offered information and awareness about themes ranging from breast cancer to motherhood, from sexuality to healthy relationships, art, advocacy, creative expression and more.
This yearly event grew and grew, and along with it, so did the voices of disabled women, not only in Houston, but throughout the nation, who wanted to be part of this. That’s how we decided to shift our focus from local to national and change our name to National Women with Disabilities Empowerment Forum. It was from the love and support of many amazing individuals who are now our board of directors that we became a nonprofit organization with a mission and a vision of woman power, disability justice and disability pride.