Tag Archives: equality

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SwEquality, part 2: from Germany to Sweden, dreaming a life here. Meet Victoria!

Few pieces ago, I talked about the equality and the dignity concerning disabled people in Sweden. You might want to know more about, if you have not read it before… so there we go, you can find it here.

Anyway, let’s narrow the focus a little bit and let me tell you about how lucky I was few days ago. I’m going to tell you about a person whom I had the great pleasure to meet and to talk to; let me introduce her to you: Victoria!

“I didn’t think it could have been possible, making an experience like this abroad. But here I am! And you know what? I’d like to spend my future here in Sweden”.

She comes from Germany and she’s an Erasmus student here in Gothenburg. Because of a muscular disease she is using an electric wheelchair and has assistants with her 24 hours per day who help her to do everything she cannot do herself, like housework or dressing herself.

“You know, I chose Sweden and I decided to come here and try a completely new experience for me. My parents helped me a lot, too, even though they were very sceptical if this could work for me. Honestly, it was the same for me at the beginning. I’ve previously been in Gothenburg last year, for a short vacation. I really liked it, so I wanted to come back and therefore I did everything I could to make this happen. Now, I’m an Erasmus student. I’ve been here since August and I’m planning to come back as soon as possible, perhaps in two years. My aim is getting a Master’s degree at Gothenburg´s University.”

“What do you study, Victoria?”

“I’m currently studying Cultural Studies and I’m thinking about doing a Master Programme in ‘Kultur och demokrati’. “Will the classes be given in Swedish?”. “Exactly!”.

Victoria started studying basic Swedish in her country, and now she’s doing her Erasmus attending classes in Swedish, too. (PS: I’ve been in Gothenburg for almost three months, but don’t tell anybody that I know barely ten words in Swedish).

“In Germany, services for people with disabilities are quite good. However, there’s something that I unfortunately have to admit: people’s mindset about disabled persons is not so good. I mean, it seems like they help you because they have to, not because they really want or care. And this, I think, is the great difference with Sweden. I feel like here people actually care about you. Really. Moreover, the political establishment in Germany is making things quite difficult for us, trying to cut money for assistants and so on, so people like me can not have an autonomous life any longer, and if you add it to the overall outlook and behaviour of people… well, I feel I’m happy here. Almost everything is easier for me. The only thing that could work better for me…”

“Yes?”

“You know, I found an apartment thanks to SGS (N.d.R: Student Housing – Studentbostäder) and I live in a very very big building, with hundreds of students. It’s not so easy to socialize there, plus I live on the other side of the river (Lindholmen) while my faculty is basically in the city centre. I wish I could socialize more. I have friends in my class, yes, but it would be nice to know more people, I think.”

“Hmm… I know what you feel, I can imagine.”

“But, I can’t complain actually. Services here are very, very good. And as I said before, people really care about you. Tram drivers can get off and help you get in voluntarily, people really go the extra mile to help you”.

“What are your interests? What do you like to do in your spare time?”

“My free time is much easier here, too. I can just go to the cinema or a museum without thinking about barriers which might cross my way! I really like watching movies and going to museums. And reading and writing, of course.”

“Christmas approaches…”

“Yes… but I’m a bit sad because I’m going to go back to Germany. My Erasmus will end soon, and I’ve to write my bachelor’s thesis as well. I really don’t want to leave Gothenburg, but my goal is to come back again. And of course I´m also happy to see my family and friends again.”

“And I’m sure it will happen!” “Hope so! By the way… I’m going back home now… I’ve to study!”

Sure! Thanks so much, Victoria… I’m very glad to have met you. And see you soon!


Victoria is a blogger, too. You can find out more about her stories by visiting her Facebook blog page ‘Vicis wilde Welt‘.

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SwEquality: justice and dignity in the world of disabilty in Sweden

I suppose that, during my activity as a blogger and digital ambassador, you’ll find out that I’ve so many interests. Before coming to Sweden, I read something about the importance given to human rights and everything concerned dignity and equality. Well, these are part of my interests. I’m aware that I’ve to deepen my knowledge about that, and this piece may be a very little contribution to what equality really means in Sweden.

I’ve chosen to focus on the equality regarding people with disabilities. Why? You should know that I come from a country (Italy) where, despite the presence of a law against any kind of discrimination and a law safeguarding the rights of disabled people, some people still behave unfairly against disabled people, discriminating them, or not respecting them; or, last but not least, architectural barriers still portrays the overall national urban landscape.

Anyway, things are changing slowly, thanks to organizations, associations and activists’ work. I’ve been following the activity of one of them, Iacopo Melio, who has been opening my eyes as well as our country’s eyes in the struggle against discrimination and the pursuit of better and equal conditions of life in the society. I really admire him and what he’s trying to do. He inspired me to find some information about the policies adopted by Swedish government and then to talk about that in this virtual space. So, many thanks Iacopo!

Iacopo-Melio

Source: http://www.pernoiautistici.com/2016/07/10878/

In my first two months as a student in Gothenburg, I have had a very good impression concerning the quality of some public buildings and of the streets and their structure, operational and efficient for everybody, at least in the city centre and in some areas I’ve been; nevertheless, it was told me that some improvements have to be done in other areas, such as Majorna.

Reading more about the condition of disabled people, I’ve found out that a very big problem to solve, for the Swedish government, is general inaccessibility. Everyone with functional disability has the right to live as others, benefiting from the facilities and having the same chances to take part to social life and activities. Much has to be done but, at the same time, much has been accomplished, and this makes me feel glad to live in such a country.

“The objective of policies for people with disabilities is to ensure a society based on diversity, a society designed in a way that enables people of all ages with disabilities to participate fully in the life of the community, and that ensures equal living conditions for girls and boys, and women and men with disabilities. Barriers to people’s participation in society must be torn down. This is a matter of equality and justice. Women, men, girls and boys with impairments must be able to lead active everyday lives on equal terms as regards participation and accessibility.”

That is the aim that the government set itself.

Alongside the efforts of the government, it is likewise very important to mention the vital and pivotal role played by a federation of many Swedish organizations for disabled people, called Handikappförbunden (Swedish Disability Federation), whose goal is:

“ (…) a society for everyone, characterized by solidarity, equality and participation. To achieve this, political initiatives are required in many fields; medical care, support services, education and training, labour market policy, physical planning, culture and information. Almost every political issue has a disability aspect. A main task for the disability movement is to inform about this and to influence decision makers and the general public.”

Many of us probably take for granted of find simply normal just going upstairs or downstairs in our houses…

Or going out quickly when we’re late for a meeting or jumping on a bus/tram…

And many other everyday activities.

Well, life is made of little nuances, right? How much are we aware of them? Things are not so easy for disabled people, and this is a matter of fact. However, we all, together with a government behind us as well as many associations, must contribute to shape a more equal and fair society. This is a goal that one day shall not be pursued anymore. Possibly everywhere. And that will be a matter of fact, too.

Online sources: https://sweden.se/society/swedens-disability-policy/http://www.hso.se/vi-ar-handikappforbunden/In-English/http://www.government.se/government-policy/social-care/goals-and-visions/

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Credits Featured Image: Simon Paulin/imagebank.sweden.se