Women’s Committee statement – European Disability Forum
To mark 8th March, International Women’s Day, we, women and girls with disabilities, take this opportunity to condemn once again the systematic exclusion we face as citizens. While significant progress has been made in recent years in gaining formal rights and there is more widespread awareness in society in general about our reality, there is still a long way to go.
We must not forget that this year the European Disability Forum celebrates its 25th anniversary – a quarter of a century in which we women with disabilities have raised our voice to decry the fact that we were overlooked in Beijing in 1995, although gender mainstreaming was on the agenda and, on paper at least, the diversity of women was acknowledged. A quarter of a century in which the first European Manifesto of Women and Girls with Disabilities saw the light of day in 1997 thanks to the European Disability Forum’s Women’s Committee, and the second manifesto, more mature and thoughtful, was released in 2011. Twenty-five years in which the global disability movement secured a historic achievement when our rights were recognised in an international treaty within the United Nations system, a breakthrough we achieved thanks to the demands of a critical and active social movement made up of women and men with disabilities from all parts of the world.
Moreover, all of this took place in a period when organisations of women with disabilities emerged all over Europe, organisations of women fighting for their rights as women and highlighting article 6 of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities – an article that was so difficult to introduce in the final wording – and, at the same time, looking to the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against Women as an indisputable benchmark instrument. Twenty-five years in which for the very first time a woman with disabilitiesjoined the CEDAW Committee, underlining its commitment to leave no woman or girl behind in any corner of the world.
During these twenty-five years of demands and calls for action we have achieved so many things, such as a better inclusion of women and girls with disabilities in EU disability and gender policies, and today the proposal of an EU Directive on combating violence against women and domestic violence.
But many things remain to be resolved, such as those related to living a life free of misogynist and ableist violence or enjoying access as women with disabilities to fully accessible and inclusive specialised information, services and resources on violence. We also demand respect for our sexual and reproductive rights and removal of the tight grip that persists on our right to enjoy our bodies and control our fertility. We need public employment policies that address the abject poverty and job insecurity we continue to face. Moreover, we call for properly funded measures to guarantee work-life balance and co-responsibility where women with disabilities are not merely recipients of care but also what we are: care providers. We also call for the recovery plans currently being implemented with European funding to finally bring about the full deinstitutionalisation of our lives.
Finally, we stand in solidarity with women with disabilities and all those affected by the war in Ukraine, as well as currently in warzones and conflicts worldwide.Women and girls with disabilities and women caring for persons with disabilities continue to be discriminated, left behind, at higher risk of violence and abuses and also carrying more caring responsibilities. Women and girls with disabilities in Ukraine face important barriers to leave the country and/or to protect their lives. Many of them are condemned to stay, without access to bomb shelters because they are inaccessible or left alone in institutions or remote areas without access to food, water and electricity. We need States to provide inclusive humanitarian aids and put an end to this war. Women and girls with disabilities cannot and shall not be forgotten.