International Women's Day: the invisibility of women with disabilities must end

8 March 2016
Symbol of female

The International Women’s Day 2016 finds Europe at a stage where significant efforts have been made in terms of gender equality and empowerment of women in society. However, discrimination against women still exists and Europe often fails to include the rights of women in its political and economic decision making. Women with disabilities, in particular, have to deal with a double challenge and are even more invisible in society.

Today, on the International Women’s Day, EDF calls on the EU to take measures to promote the rights of women and girls with disabilities in its policies. We call on the EU to initiate concrete projects to achieve their empowerment and full participation in all fields of life and to support the setting up of organisations, networks and groups of women with disabilities .


On 4 March 2016, the European Commission made a proposal for the European Union to ratify the Council of Europe's Istanbul Convention . This is a comprehensive international treaty on combating violence against women and domestic violence. EDF welcomes the European Commission’s proposal, as it was one of the recommendations that the United Nations (UN) Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities submitted to the EU in September 2015 and will be hugely beneficial to all women.

Ana Peláez,Chair of EDF Women’s Committee stated: “Promoting the human rights of women and girls with disabilities is at the core of EDF’s work, in line with the ** UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UN CRPD) and the UN Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW)** . The 8 of March is a day to celebrate what women have achieved throughout recent years. However, it’s also a day to raise awareness about women with disabilities in the EU”.


According to the United Nations, 1 in 5 women across the world has a disability and the prevalence of disability is actually higher among women than men (19.2% versus 12%). Yet, women and girls with disabilities remain at the margins of decision-making and progress and gender equality. In order to empower women with disabilities, it is necessary to promote collaboration and work together with the women’s movement on topics of common interest.


75% of the members of the parliaments in the EU member states are men . Women, including women with disabilities, are still underrepresented in political and public life. In the European Parliament, we welcome the participation of two female MEPs with disabilities. However, much work remains to be done to strengthen the political participation and leadership of women, including of women with disabilities. EDF calls on the EU to ensure the equal participation of all women with disabilities in political and public life, including the right to vote and be elected.

For more information on this topic, follow the discussions during the 16th session of the Commission on the Status of Women on 14-24 March 2016 on women’s empowerment and sustainable development.

More information

EDF’s 2nd manifesto on the rights of persons with disabilities

EDF’s tool to enhance inclusion of women and girls in EDF’s general policy work

EDF’s Gender Equality Plan


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