Almost a year after the adoption of a Gender Equality Strategy 2020-2025, the European Commission published its EU Disability Rights Strategy for 2021-2030.
The Strategy aims to promote the life of persons with disabilities in the EU and beyond in the coming decade and is based on the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities ratified by the EU and all its Member States.
How does the Strategy include women and girls with disabilities?
The strategy promotes an intersectional perspective “addressing specific barriers faced by persons with disabilities who are at the intersection of identities (gender, racial, ethnic, sexual, religious) or in a difficult socioeconomic or other vulnerable situation”.
Women and girls with disabilities are explicitly mentioned among persons with disabilities. There are 4 references to gender and 7 references to women in the text of the strategy.
The Strategy specifically looks at several issues particularly relevant to women and girls with disabilities, such as the necessity to:
- Create gender and culture-sensitive mainstream support services
- Give specific attention of women with disabilities in foresting access to quality and sustainable jobin order to ensure economic and social inclusion
- Ensure effective access to justice and combat violence faced by women with disabilities and persons with disabilities living in institutions
- Ensure sustainable and equal access to healthcare, including sexual and reproductive healthcare and prevention services
However, the strategy fails short to include the gender perspective in its planned actions and flagship initiatives.
What will we do?
An important cohesion between the implementation of the Disability Rights Strategy, and the Gender Equality Strategy, the Gender Action Plan III and the Victims’ Rights Strategy is needed.
The European Disability Forum, with the support and expertise of its Women’s Committee, will continue to advocate for the rights of women and girls with disabilities, and mothers and other woman caring for persons with disabilities at EU level.
In the next decade, we will go beyond the existing strategies and call for the inclusion of women and girls with disabilities in all areas of life. To use the words of Commissioner Dalli, women and girls with disabilities need to be included from the bedroom to the board room.
This requires the EU and all its member states to:
- Ensure the full inclusion of women and girls with disabilities in disability and gender strategies, policies and programmes, and a better coordination between gender and disability policy-makers
- End stereotypes and stigma faced by women and girls with disabilities in all areas of life
- Prevent and combat all forms of gender-based and domestic violence faced by women and girls with disabilities, including forced sterilisation, contraception and abortion, in line with the Istanbul Convention, in all settings, including institutions
- Ensure the full access to justice of women and girls with disabilities, including those who are under guardianship or another mechanism of substituted decision making
- Adopt measures to address gender pay gap, pension gap and care gap that currently does not include the rights of women with disabilities and does not tackle the needs of parents, and especially mothers of children with disabilities
- Adopt targeted measures to improve the inclusion of women and girls with disabilities in all areas of life including mainstream education, employment and entrepreneurship, political and public life, and in sport and cultural life
Marine Uldry, Human Rights Officer