Two women who've overcome impairments are the guest speakers at an International Women's Day event to be held at Chartwell Library.

International Women's Day is marked on March 8 annually, and is a focal point for women's rights. Its roots are traced back to the American socialist movement in 1909, and in 1975 it was adopted by the United Nations.

The theme for the event at Chartwell Library, on March 7, is Celebrating Women and Inclusion. Former Parliamentary Speaker and MP Margaret Wilson and Royal New Zealand Foundation for the Blind advocate Susan Mellsopp.

Professor Wilson is an amputee who uses a walking aid. She is a highly experienced lawyer who has had a distinguished career as a Labour Party MP, including holding ministerial portfolios for Treaty Negotiations, Commerce, Courts and Employment, as well as being Attorney General.


"Having a disability has opened me up to more opportunities to live a fuller life than I could ever have imagined," she says.

Ms Mellsopp has been an active advocate for people with sight impairments for several decades, having come to terms with her own short-sightedness in her 30s. She is guided through her life by her trusty working dog, Jay, and is a frequent contributor to a working group on disability matters chaired by Hamilton City Council's Disability Advisor Judy Small.

Ms Mellsopp has travelled extensively overseas, and says she often reminds people of a quote which resonates strongly with her: "Life is for living – the only thing I can't do is drive a car or fly a plane!".

Both women will give talks on how they have overcome their impairments to lead busy and successful lives.

The event is free, and starts at 1.30pm. 7 March has been selected so the event does not clash with the launch of a book on the Waikato Women's Refuge, which will occur at the Central Library on Friday, 8 March.