WAND Founder - Karen Smit

Karen Smit Karen Smit

Background -

I have been suffering from Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis for most of my life, since the age of four. Every single joint in my body is severely affected and as a result I experience mobility limitations. Growing up in a small town, society and people did not give me much of a chance and did not believe that I would grow up to be an independent adult living life to the fullest.

Fortunately I did not allow others perception of my disability to limit me (it has delayed achieving some dreams, but I have achieved it) and continue to push forward to do the things that I know I can do. As a disability activist, I strive to make a difference in disabled and all other people’s lives, so that we all can enjoy our human rights and respect each other.

My family mean everything to me and with their support I am able to be a change agent for transformation.

I am a subject matter expert in Disability Employment/Management and follow a Diversity & Inclusion approach. I am passionate about technology and head up the department in a global telecoms company that is responsible to provide accessible/inclusive mobile products and services for the disabled and elderly. I believe in dreaming dreams and setting goals, and then taking action and working hard to achieve it.

As business women with disabilities who are leading full lives, we have taken the responsibility to embark on a journey to raise the visibility of disabled women and girls with the aim of demystifying incorrect beliefs and making our voices heard.

Education

M.A (industrial) Social Work at the University of Stellenbosch

Awards/Achievements

WAND is a Finalist in the 2016 Gender Mainstreaming Awards
SA Disability Alliance (SADA) Award in Mar 2016 for Change Agents and Disability Champions among South Africans for promoting accessible ICT
Women’s award in 2010 from the Minister of Women, Children and Persons with Disabilities in recognition of providing ICT solutions for the disabled and elderly in South Africa and for being a successful business woman and a mother.
Had Employment column in a disability magazine in 2010
Finalist in the 2008 Africa Com Awards in the Category: Changing Lives for providing mobile technology for the visually impaired
Human Resources Director’s award in 2008 for spearheading a national Employment Equity initiative within a global telecoms company
Managing Director’s award in 2004 for designing and implementing disability management within a global telecoms company
Delivered various keynote and motivational speeches locally and internationally