Arab & European women with disabilities join forces to claim for their rights

28 April 2013

On 27-28 April 2013, the European Disability Forum and the Arab Organisation of Persons with Disabilities gathered in Cairo, more than 120 female leaders with disabilities at the Arab regional conference entitled: "Women with Disabilities between Rights and Norms”.

In cooperation with the Arab Forum of Women With Disabilities (AFOWD) and under the patronage of the Arab League of States, the conference gathered representatives from 20 Arab countries, as well as European women with disabilities, activists advocating for the rights of women.

The conference was an opportunity to exchange good practices between the European and Arab female leaders on the use of international human rights instruments and their application to the rights of women with disabilities, the challenges in their public and private life, the existing legislation and the impact of media on the rights of women with disabilities.

The conference clearly indicated an urgent need to tackle the lack of education, the unemployment rate, lower salaries, limited access to health and maternity services, limitations to their family rights, scarce or no access to services or programmes available for women, the risk to suffer violence and all kind of abuses, limited availability of data broken down by gender and disability and under-representation of women in organisations for persons with disabilities.

EDF was represented by Ana Pelaez, Chair of the EDF Women’s Committee, and Pekka Tuominen, EDF Executive member. The conference also counted on the participation of Yannis Vardakastanis, EDF president and IDA Chair, and Gunta Anca, member of the European Economic and Social Committee.

'It is important to include the gender perspective in all our work at international and European level. As umbrella organisations, we need to work hard to make sure than women and girls with disabilities know better their rights. Women and girls with disabilities should fully enjoy their human rights and should be fully included in society as foreseen in the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD), as well as in the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW)', stressed Ana Pelaez.

‘The exciting participation of so many women with disabilities in the conference showed that girls and women with disabilities, as well as mothers of children with disabilities have a lot to contribute to our societies. They should not be excluded from their right to do so; they should be fully and actively included in all aspects of society’, underlined Pekka Tuominen.

The conference, which was financially supported by the Spanish Agency of International Cooperation for Development (AECID), concluded with the decision to adopt a resolution, that will be published at EDF’s website in the next days.


The conference was organised in the frame of MUSAWA II project aiming at promoting a dialogue between European and Arab organisations of persons with disabilities.


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