Ireland’s only female delegate to speak on inclusivity at Davos

Sinéad Burke felt 'left out' of fashion because of her size.

Sinéad Burke is attending Davos as Ireland’s only female delegate.

The activist, who was born with achondroplasia — the most common form of dwarfism — is well known as an advocate for designing a world that is accessible to everyone.

She will speak four times at the World Economic Forum (WEF), beginning today with a session called Fostering Inclusivity.

The session includes Peter Maurer, president of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and it will discuss how the world can make its communities more inclusive.

Ms Burke was invited off the back of her viral TED talk.

“I was very fortunate to give a TED talk in New York last March on why design should include everybody and particularly looking at it from a disability perspective.

"That went out on to TED.com and it reached one million views and the WEF invited me to their offices in Geneva and to meet with staff and to speak with them about how, with regard to disability and diversity, they can speak with clients and adapt business models about how they accommodate this market in a very authentic way.

“That seemed to go well and it resonated with the audience in Geneva and from that, they asked me: ‘Do you have any interest in coming to Davos in January?’ I thought the question was hypothetical and I said yes and laughed and then the invitation arrived and just accepted it as quick as possible,” said Ms Burke on Morning Ireland yesterday.

The Trinity PhD candidate said her interest in disability and design arose from feeling “left out”.

“I felt left out of the conversation particularly within the domain of fashion I have been enthralled by the fashion industry since I was 15 or 16.

"I am a little person. I stand at the height of three foot, five inches tall and my fashion choices were limited to that of childrenswear or having to adapt womenswear.

“So I started a blog and a social media presence because for me I had all these questions about representation, particularly in the fashion industry and with regard to the design of buildings it was that that disabled me more than anything else because I required the empathy and kindness of strangers just in order to survive.”


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