Women with disabilities have been described as being doubly marginalised on account of their disability and their gender. They may be more vulnerable to poverty and social exclusion, and often have limited social, political and economic opportunities and lack of access to basic services. Women with disabilities may also be at greater risk of sexual and physical violence and abuse. Girls with disabilities often experience discrimination, for example in education and family life.
However, to address these issues it is necessary to understand the social roles of and between women and men both with and without disabilities. The exclusion experienced by women and girls with disabilities is not simply a womens issue or a women with disabilities issue, but a social issue that requires active participation of women, men, girls and boys. This can be described as a gender and development, rather than women in development, approach.
Both mainstream policies and programmes and initiatives aimed specifically at people with disabilities should have a cross-cutting gender component to ensure the inclusion and empowerment of women and girls with disabilities. This is supported by Article 6 of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD).
This Key list includes introductory resources on gender and disability, as well as experiences and country studies which describe the situation of women with disabilities and gender-related initiatives. Practical resources for those working with gender and disability, key policy and rights documents, and information relating to sexual health and violence issues are also highlighted. We welcome your suggestions: please send comments or suggested additions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
1. Introductory resources
The gender-responsive implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development presents an enormous opportunity to achieve gender equality, end poverty and hunger, combat inequalities within and among countries, build peaceful, just and inclusive societies, protect and promote human rights, and ensure the lasting protection of the planet and its natural resources. The SDGs provide an important framework for collective action to achieve gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls and the realization of their full enjoyment of all human rights. This work requires continued attention to the implementation of outcomes of major United Nations conferences and Summits, including the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action and the Programme of Action of the International Conference on Population and Development, as well as sustained implementation of international human rights treaties.
Within the overall humanitarian response architecture, the Global Protection Cluster (GPC) works to improve the predictability, leadership, effectiveness and accountability of response to ensure that protection is central to humanitarian action. It is the GPC's responsibility to engage in three key areas: standards and policy setting, building response capacity, and operational support. Through the systematic application of an Age, Gender and Diversity (AGD) approach, it seeks to ensure that all individuals in affected communities have access to their rights on an equal footing. Various Essential Guidance and Tools are available in each of the areas of age, gender and diversity (persons with disabilities and minorities and indigenous people).
This advocacy briefing paper presents key information about the inclusion of disability in gender policies and programs. It highlights key facts and issues such as women and girls with disabilities facing multiple discrimination, gaps in political and program responses and legal policy and frameworks. It outlines practical steps can be taken by development actors at different levels and suggests ways to measure progress
Advocacy briefing paper
The goal of this article is to analyse the intersection between a social gender and disability, and identify differences between both the perceived and attached identities of women with disabilities. Two qualitative research studies on women with disabilities in Lithuania reveal ambiguity in the relationship of women with disabilities, towards factors that form their identities. Disability here is realised on a deeper level: it structures respondents’ self-perception and self-reflection. The research also points to the fact that this part of an individual’s identity is straightforwardly perceived in their society and more profoundly ruminated by the women themselves. The ‘invisibility’ of the womanhood here suggests that this part of an identity is perceived as a ‘natural’, unquestionable aspect, which is beyond criticism. Such an attitude absorbs rather than transforms normative provisions and hinders the development of practises directed at subordination of gendering structures.
From the perspective of a normative subject, disability and womanhood have equal weights, since both these aspects of identity represent deviation from the ‘norm’, as well as other differences and subordination. However, both these aspects have different meanings in the self-perception of women with disabilities. The social model of disability acknowledges various obstacles in the environment, which hinder personal independence or create disability. Gender on the other hand, is often naturalized, and a systemic gender-based discrimination remains unmentioned. Hence, discriminatory structures related to disability are targeted, but gender subordination remains unchallenged.
The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development provides global opportunity and obligation to work towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) for all women and girls, and address the rights and demands of women with disabilities as a matter of priority. This brief underlines the need to mainstream disability into all efforts to achieve gender equality and women’s empowerment (SDG 5); highlights key issues for ending poverty (SDG 1) and ensuring healthy lives (SDG 3) for women and girls with disabilities; and calls for closing data gaps on gender and disability.
The brief provides the following at a glance facts about women and girls with disabilities:
- One in five women live with a disability globally
- An estimated one in four households has a person with disabilities
- Women are more likely than men to become disabled throughout the course of their lives
- Women comprise up to three-quarters of persons with disabilities in low and middle-income countries
- Prevalence of disability is higher among marginalised populations and people in rural areas.
Spotlights are made on areas of the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 5, to achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls, and specific targets and indicators are given. The spotlights are on intimate partner violence, harmful practices (including child marriage and female genital mutilation (FGM)), unpaid care and domestic work, women in leadership, sexual and reproductive health and the gender data gap. Data gaps are identified and a five year programme is outlined, Making Every Women and Girl Count, which is designed to provide technical and financial support to countries to improve the production and use of gender statistics in order to monitor the implementation of gender equality commitments in the 2030 Agenda.
This progress review aims to: provide a synthesis of the understanding of the additional barriers that girls with disabilities face in education; highlight effective or promising approaches and programmes addressing these barriers, including policies and legislation; point to gaps in evidence; and provide recommendations on a way forward. An internet search of relevant grey and academic literature on gender-responsive inclusive education was carried out. A search of websites of (inter) national non-governmental organisations, donors, and research institutions on the subject of gender-responsive inclusive education was conducted. In addition, requests for information on gender-responsive inclusive education interventions were submitted to platforms such as the Pelican Initiative and the Gender and Development Network UK. Subsequent referral to contact persons was followed up via email and phone with requests for sharing of studies, evaluations, progress reports, and other relevant documents of interventions.
Support and guidance for the report provided by UN Girls’ Education Initiative (UNGEI)
"International and national laws and policies on disability have historically neglected aspects related to women and girls with disabilities. In turn, laws and policies addressing women have traditionally ignored disability". "Article 6 serves as an interpretation tool to approach the responsibilities of States parties across the Convention, to promote, protect and fulfil the human rights of women and girls with disabilities, from a human rights-based approach and a development perspective". These general comments take the form of an introduction, normative content, states parties’ obligations, the interrelationship of article 6 with other articles of the Convention (perspectives of women with disabilities in CRPD provisions) and national implementation
2. Humanitarian context
While humanitarian organizations are increasingly recognizing women and girls with disabilities in policies and guidelines, there are still significant gaps in operationalizing this. Their needs and capacities are often under-represented in gender, protection and disability forums. Furthermore, organizations of women with disabilities, which can play a critical role in bridging the development/humanitarian divide, are not meaningfully included in humanitarian coordination and decision-making.This report documents the findings from a global mapping on inclusion of women and girls with disabilities in humanitarian action. It presents recommendations to strengthen the role of organizations of women with disabilities. These organizations have the skills and expertise to identify and monitor protection concerns in affected communities, bridging the humanitarian - development divide. However, they face a vicious cycle of exclusion from both the women's and disability rights movements, which in turn reduces their access to financial opportunities and capacity development.
"This policy brief focuses on the gender dimension of small ‘p’ priority-setting for land release. Preferences identified through consultation with stakeholders from different gender, age and socio-economic groups should lead to the allocation of resources to, and concentration of activities on, tasks where impact will be the greatest"
GICHD policy brief 5
WaterAid, in collaboration with CBM Australia and Di Kilsby consulting have published a paper to examine the linkages, common approaches and learning in both areas.
The discussion paper explores:
• How the water, sanitation and hygiene sector can continue to improve practice on gender and disability
• How an integrated approach to the two intersectional issues of gender and disability help us to ‘do development better’
The discussion paper provides reflections on applying integrated gender and disability approaches to rights- based water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) programs in Timor-Leste and Papua New Guinea.
The paper is intended as a conversation starter for WASH program managers and other development practitioners looking to strengthen their conceptual and practical understanding of challenges and successes in integrating gender and disability in WASH and those looking to move towards more transformative and sustainable practice.
The paper examines a gender mainstreaming and disability inclusive approach to ensure the inclusion of women with disabilities in post-conflict peace-building. This paper is useful to people interested in women with disabilities and post-conflict peace building
Barbara Faye Waxman Fiduccia Papers on Women and Girls with Disabilities
"Strengthening the Role of Women with Disabilities in Humanitarian Action: A Facilitator’s Guide" was designed by the Women’s Refugee Commission, in collaboration with organizations of women with disabilities in Africa and South Asia. It is a tool to support women leaders to provide training to members, colleagues and/or partners on humanitarian action. The training is intended to enhance the capacity of women with disabilities to effectively advocate on women’s and disability issues within relevant humanitarian forums at national and regional levels by:
- increasing understanding of the humanitarian system;
- helping participants identify gaps and opportunities for inclusion of women and girls with disabilities within the humanitarian system; and,
- developing advocacy plans to strengthen access and inclusion.
The Women’s Refugee Commission is deeply grateful to the women with disabilities who provided input and feedback after participating in the pilot training, as well as the Network of African Women with Disabilities, the African Disability Alliance, South Asia Disability Forum, and Special Talent Exchange Program in Pakistan, with which we have had an ongoing partnership in this wider project.
3. Policies and rights
WEI's Report is the first-ever report and map and it includes data, analysis and infographics of the leaders, venues, and locations where women's disability rights advocates and organizations are especially active, where the gaps are, and where there are opportunities for collaboration, and helps in achieving greater collective impact.
An overwhelmingly clear finding from the Report is that the growing number of disabled women and their organizations working for the rights of women and girls with disabilities is increasingly passionate, energetic and committed to this urgent effort. Furthermore, these women want to work collaboratively, share a desire to enhance their skills and demand their rights unequivocally. These findings form the basis for the development of enhanced mechanisms for collaboration and significantly increased funding for these organizations and this important work.
Through an online survey launched on August 18, 2015 and interviews conducted in January and February 2016, WEI produces this comprehensive mapping report of the field of advocates for the rights of women and girls with disabilities globally and nationally, released on March 8, 2016, International Women's Day.”
This legal background paper asserts that the United Nations Comprehensive and Integral International Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Rights and Dignity of Persons with Disabilities should include a separate article on the equality of women with disabilities. This paper outlines the stigma, discrimination and human rights abuses that especially harm disabled women. Other issues of focus include: sexual and psychological abuse, including forced sterilisation; habilitation and rehabilitation; participation in public life; and employment. This resource would be useful for anyone with an interest in gender equality, women's rights and international law
HUMAN RIGHT TOOLKIT FOR WOMEN AND GIRL WITH DISABILITIES
International human rights law recognises women and girls with disability as women and girls with rights, able to make decisions about our own lives. The Australian government has agreed to take action to make sure all women and girls with disability enjoy all the human rights described in the Conventions, Treaties, Covenants and Declarations it has agreed to or supported. Yet, very few of us know about our rights. Importantly, very few of us know how they are relevant to our life, and the lives of our families, friends, and communities. Learning about our human rights – what they are and how to have our rights respected – is important to achieve positive and lasting change for all women and girls with disability. We need to take action, individually and together, so that all of us can demand and enjoy our human rights.
If you are a woman or girl with disability and would like to learn more about your human rights and how they can be used to achieve change in your life or the lives of other women and girls with disability, this Toolkit is for you.
WWDA Position Statements
Explore WWDA’s Position Statements on the priority issues that women and girls with disability have told us are most important to them. Position statements include: violence; decision-making; participation; and, sexual and reproductive rights.
WWDA Human Rights Toolkit
Explore and download WWDA’s Human Rights Toolkit for Women and Girls with Disability, including resources for leading change.
WWDA Human Rights Videos
What do human rights mean to you? We asked some of our members to talk about what human rights mean to them, and about their views on the key human rights issues facing women and girls with disability.
Graphics & Media
WWDA developed a series of infographics for distribution across social media to promote the WWDA Human Rights Toolkit and Position Statements. Download graphics and share from here.
Following a statistically rich overview of the position of disabled women and girls globally, the position of disabled women and girls in Australia is reported. The human rights violations of disabled women in the context of violence, sterilisation and, motherhood and parenting are discussed. The history, evolution and current structure of the Women with Disabilities Australia (WWDA) organisation are described. Some of the challenges and successes of WWDA are also described including: dealing with authorities; negotiating the local, the national and the global; using the new communication technologies; and forming strategic alliances.
4. Guides and toolkits
This book deals with practical advice on health care for women with disabilities. It has been developed in partnership with health care professionals and disabled women in over 42 countries. It covers the key issues of disability in the community; accessible health care; mental health; sexual health; family planning; and child birth. The book is written in a practical and accessible style, suitable for anyone with an interest in disability, social development and women's health issues. In particular, the book offers a valuable insight into 'real-life' personal experiences of disabled women
This manual contains resource materials on approaches to promote the human rights of persons with disabilities, especially women and children, in inclusive people-centered development. It is divided into three modules: Locating the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities within the Human Rights Framework; Tools for Promoting the Rights of Women and Children with Disabilities; and An Inclusive Approach to Gender, Disability, and Development. Each module includes case studies, good practices, analysis and actions to guide human rights practice and the development agenda. This manual is useful for organisations, government agencies and academic institutions who are interested in promoting the human rights of people with disabilities, especially women and children
"The overall aim of this Gender and Disability Toolbox is to help DPOD member organisations and their Southern partners to mainstream the gender dimension." The toolbox is divided into the following three sections: Section I Relationship between Gender and Disability; Section II Gender-Sensitive Project Preparation; Section III Organisational Development from a Gender Perspective. The sections contain detailed introductory information, case studies, project planning tools, annotated gender-sensitivity guides and lists of related references. This resource would be useful to people interested in gender and disability issues
There is a need for organisations working in the field of women and gender to better understand how disability is experienced. The information in this practical resource is relevant for both women-specific activities along with gender programs. It provides practical about how to include women with disabilities in development programmes
5. Sexual and reproductive health
This literature review on the issue of sexual violence against people in East Africa aims to identify applied research. It contains a synthesis of the knowledge contained in the best selected research, reading notes and an annotated bibliography. The synthesis provides an objective summary of the of the state of the knowledge concerning the sexual abuse of people with disabilities in East Africa
The paper gives a background to the issue of forced sterilisation, outlines various international human rights standards that prohibit forced sterilisation, and offers several recommendations for improving laws, policies, and professional guidelines governing sterilisation practices. It is useful for anyone interested in the sterilization of women and girls with disabilities
"This Briefing Paper examines the sexual and reproductive rights of women and girls with disabilities in the context of the future development agenda Beyond 2014 and Post 2015"
ICPD Human Rights Conference on Sexual and Reproductive Health The Hague, Netherlands
7-11 July 2013
This report presents the findings of a situational assessment that explored the risk factors and vulnerabilities of women and men with disabilities to sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) and highlights the complexity of addressing SGBV, sexuality, and the stigma and discrimination that is part of the daily reality for persons with disabilities. Recommendations are provided for various stakeholder groups
SD/ RS 05
This report focuses upon prevalence and pervasiveness of violence against women and girls with disabilities. It "reviews available information on the forms, causes and consequences of violence against women when both gender and disability collide to exacerbate that violence; examines the impact of the multiple and intersecting dimensions of women’s lives and; their impact on violence against women with disabilities. The Report outlines the international and regional legal framework, highlighting relevant provisions and interpretations. Finally, the Report examines the extent to which States have met their due diligence obligations (setting forth a few country-specific case studies) highlights some best practices, discusses significant gaps in the research and makes recommendations for future action"
Paper series no 104-2012
This report documents the Making it Work Methodology and applies it to work on gender and disability inclusion. The authors identify and describe eleven good practices in ten countries which were developed by women to eliminate violence against women and girls with disabilities
"The present report is the second submitted by the Special Rapporteur on violence against women, its causes and consequences, Rashida Manjoo, to the General Assembly, pursuant to resolution 65/187. The report provides an overview of the activities of the Special Rapporteur and discusses the issue of violence against women with disabilities"
This paper presents the findings of a "participatory research project, developed collaboratively between Australian and Cambodian partners, (that) investigated prevalence and experiences of gender-based violence of women with disabilities in comparison to women without disabilities; assessed the extent to which existing policies and programs include or address women with disabilities; and explored how women with disabilities are supported or denied access to existing programs"
AusAID Research Working Paper 1
"The aim of this paper is to educate people about the violence experienced by women with disabilities, to make recommendations about what can be done by a variety of stakeholders to end violence against women with disabilities, to motivate agencies dealing with violence against women to include prevention of violence against women with disabilities in their work, and to empower women with disabilities to protect themselves against violence"
Barbara Faye Waxman Fiduccia Papers on Women and Girls with Disabilities
7. Experiences and country studies
After 20 years of displacement and war in northern Uganda, this research report presents information about the situation of women who acquired their disabilities due to the war or who already had disabilities before the war. The report presents interviews from women with disabilities, their family members, international agencies and NGOs, and analyses their responses given the context that Uganda is a signatory to international treaties, such as the CRPD. The report concludes by making recommendations to the government of Uganda
"This article presents the findings of a study on access to HIV prevention and sexual violence protection services among persons with disabilities in Cambodia, based on a gender and cross-impairment analysis. The results show obvious discrepancies between women and men of different impairments in regards to their level of HIV knowledge and risks to sexual violence, in particular among women with disabilities. Furthermore, local services providers revealed their lack of awareness on disability issues and capacity in providing accessible services to them. Ways forward in addressing the rights of women and men with disabilities, as well as gaps in services delivery will have to be addressed in concerted manners at political, societal and community levels"
This paper uses a human rights framework to document the range of data, research and information needed in order to give a comprehensive assessment of the situation of women with disabilities in Australia. The paper provides "an overview of the intersection of gender and disability, as well as a brief background to the human rights imperative. Using key articles from the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), the paper then prescribes the key quantitative and qualitative data and research required under each article, and links this to Australia’s international human rights obligations and domestic policy context"
"This report examines the interests of women with disabilities, as well as the barriers to their participation. It also provides recommendations for the promotion of their electoral and political participation, while highlighting opportunities and strategies for intervention and engagement by relevant stakeholders"
"This study aimed to define the current barriers and facilitators to socioeconomic inclusion for women with physical disability living in the community in Bangladesh and to highlight the impact of these barriers on health."
8. Websites - databases
Equal Measures 2030 envisions a world where no girl or woman is invisible.
They connect data and evidence with advocacy and action, helping to fuel progress towards gender equality. That means making sure girls’ and women’s movements, rights advocates and decision makers have easy-to-use data and evidence to guide efforts to reach the Global Goals by 2030.
This online tool provides concepts and definitions with gender perspective structured according to the thematic areas of UN Women. It includes gender concepts as well as international conferences, agendas, initiatives and partnerships related to gender equality.
There are three sections to the repository of gender mainstreaming policies strategies, action plans:
A. UN offices, funds, programmes and specialized agencies
B. Regional Commissions
C. UN secretariat departments and offices
Links are given to approximately 100 documents collected since 2000.
This UN system repository of resources and tools for capacity development on gender mainstreaming aims to enhance the capacities of UN staff in relation to gender-responsive planning, implementation, monitoring and improved accountability.
There are three sections:
A. UN offices, funds, programmes and specialized agencies
B. Regional Commissions
C. UN secretariat departments and offices
A list of official documentation on UN system-wide policy and strategy, with links to resolutions and reports on gender mainstreaming by ECOSOC and the General Assembly, as well as the policy of the United Nations Chief Executives Board for Coordination.
This website presents information about Women Enabled (WE), a non-governmental organization working to advance the human rights of women and girls worldwide, especially women and girls with disabilities. Links are provided to a comprehensive list of women enabled issues, in addition to related news and events, media and publications and advocacy advice to take action. This website is useful for anyone interested in the advancement of human rights for women and girls