Talking Harry Potter, drama, relationships and inclusion - Becky Tyler on International...

Becky Tyler is a young woman with lots to say. On her Twitter profile she describes herself as ‘Christian, teenager, eye gaze user, computer whizz kid, artist, gamer, actress, preacher, and nonverbal quadriplegic with a big voice. But mostly just cheeky.’

The teenager inspired the crowd at Greenbelt in the summer – as she spoke to over 6000 people about her story and the importance of churches being inclusive and accessible for disabled people.

On International Women’s Day, we asked Becky about what she thinks about the day, being a young woman and whether disabled women face greater barriers than others.

Why is International Women’s Day is important?

I think it is important to bring the issues that women face to a wider audience and talk about them.

Tell us about a woman who has inspired you

Emma Watson is the actress who played Hermione in the Harry Potter movies and took the lead role of Belle in the live action version of Beauty and the Beast. I love her acting! In 2014 she launched the ’HeForShe’ campaign when she was chosen by the United Nations as the Goodwill Ambassador for UN Women. I think this is a really good cause, because everybody should be equal. Not just by gender, but by ability, culture and religion. We are all human beings and we all deserve the same things. I think the HeForShe campaign was very clever because it engaged with men and boys to get involved in promoting gender equality and advocate for the women in their life.

From your own life and experience, what are some of the barriers that women face in the world?

At my youth club, they had a girls and boys night, the boys did sports and girls did arts and crafts. My friend (who is a girl) didn’t want to do arts and crafts, she wanted to do sports. The activities that were organised were very gender-biased and did not take into account the views of the youth. My friend was simply told she was not allowed to play sports. Maybe some of the boys would have enjoyed the arts and crafts too?

Do you think disabled women face greater barriers than others?

Yes. For example, I think if I want a boyfriend or if in the future I want to get married, I think I will not be taken seriously. Any future partner may be seen as some sort of hero for ‘taking me on’ because of my high level of care needs.

Can you tell us about something that encourages you about gender parity as a young woman today?

In my drama club it doesn’t matter whether you are a girl or boy, we are all given the same chances to perform the leading roles. We also perform showcases with able bodied and disabled people acting, dancing, and singing all together on the same stage.

Can you tell us a hope that you have for a more inclusive and equal society in the future? What needs to change?

I would like to see more disabled people in positions of power to help shape our laws and policies, to promote equality in all things.

What can churches do to ensure the experiences and stories of women are represented equally

I would like to see more women leading churches! Too often women are in the supporting roles, and they are not encouraged as leaders. I think men need to learn to become more comfortable with women in leadership.