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Feminist Success Stories - Célébrons nos réussites féministes

Karen A. Blackford
Marie-Luce Garceau
Sandra Kirby



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1Originally, this book was intended to identify institutional barriers to women’s equality, demonstrate through examples how women have overcome these barriers, and explain how these transformations occurred. There was no formal plan to inform readers about the experience of living with a disability. Yet, through the process of publication, the book has become a telling example of how disability is inherently a part our lives — in this case, a part of women’s lives.

2Threads of the disability experience first emerged as articles were submitted. A call for papers from women in a variety of life’s locations meant that, inevitably, because fifteen percent of the population has some form of disability, the theme of disability would be part of some women’s stories. For instance, we see in the portrayal of Franco-Ontarian women that disability is often a part of the aging process. In a description of the institutional forces facing women with breast cancer, we read about the disabling effects of medical practices that value objectivity over personhood. Some First Nations women in an economic development project demonstrate the disabling effects of racism and sexism. Also illustrated is the ironic potential for enablement of families when a parent has multiple sclerosis (MS). Even discussion of an educational union’s transformation addresses the importance of establishing accessibility and accommodation for workers with disabilities.

3The book’s progress was slow because of a number of factors. One was the fact that many Canadian publishers who otherwise wanted to produce the book were reluctant to risk publishing and marketing a bilingual book. Another was the time demanded in weaving together each chapter in such a way as to allow each author to write in her own official language. The changeable nature of Canadian women’s lives was another barrier, as many authors and editors experienced the distracting forces of the competitive economy on one hand and inadequate social supports on the other. Finally, the publication process was slowed down by an extended, seriously disabling event in the life of one of the editors. This woman’s experience of disability brought uncertainty to the process of completion.

4While the book is thus partly about women and disability, it is also about life’s reality. The unpredictable natures of our bodies and of our lives is part of being human. At the same time, partly because feminism, disability, humanness, and unpredictability are part of the book’s fabric, the processes and final outcomes of this publication are clear demonstrations of empowerment of and by women. In this sense, the book has fulfilled the editors’ original intentions. The book identifies institutional barriers to women’s equality, and shows how barriers can be overcome. These examples of empowerment can be of benefit to all marginalized groups.

5Publication of this book would not have been possible without the generous contributions of a number of organizations and individuals. The book is sponsored by the Canadian Centre on Disability Studies in Winnipeg, Manitoba. Funding was provided by Human Resources Development Canada and Laurentian University. External anonymous reviewers generously provided editorial suggestions for each chapter. The Canadian Sociology and Anthropology Association agreed to have two of their anonymous reviewers to read and comment on the manuscript as a whole. Our editors and authors are sincerely grateful for all of these contributions. In each case, authors made revisions in response to suggestions made by these readers and showed incredible patience with what became a lengthy publishing process. The editors appreciate the cooperation of every author.

6Finalement, nous aimerions remercier chaleureusement les personnes qui ont révisé le manuscrit et qui ont bien voulu apporter leurs commentaires et leurs suggestions: Julie Boissonneault, Lorraine Carter et Leda Culliford de l’Université Laurentienne, Marc Charron et Pierre Lemelin, travailleurs autonomes. Merci aussi à Jo-Ann Philipow et à Léo Duquette de Concepts médiatiques Inc., à Élyse Pallardy pour oeuvre de la couverture et à Jean-Marc Bélanger, Ken Clamain et Jennifer Keck pour la lecture finale du manuscrit.

© Les Presses de l’Université d’Ottawa | University of Ottawa Press, 1999

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