Stephanie Ortoleva has advocated for civil rights throughout her career. From serving as a human rights lawyer for the US Department of State to founding Women Enabled International, an organization that works at the intersection of women’s and disability rights, Ortoleva is driven to educate and advocate for disabled women and girls around the world.
As a Ford grantee, Ortoleva collaborates with organizations to focus directly on the intersection of gender and disability, bringing the voices of women’s rights advocates to the forefront so that women with disabilities are speaking for themselves.
“Women with disabilities are 20 percent of the world’s women, and we can’t afford to leave that many women behind,” she says. “Our world needs all of the brilliant minds, the hard workers, and the thoughtful leaders we can find, because we have so many problems to confront as a world. And so you can’t leave one-fifth of the women out of that work.”
Ortoleva’s story is part of the #FutureIsHers multimedia series of interviews, essays, and more, celebrating the innovators, risk-takers, and change-makers the Ford Foundation has proudly supported and the impact they’ve had on the lives of women and girls everywhere. Despite the many challenges women and girls face, around the world they’re rising up. Determined and persistent, they’re leading the way in showing us what gender justice looks like, disrupting inequality and creating a world where social change is possible: The future is hers.