International Women's Day 2021

International Women's Day 2021

COVID-19 and women’s leadership: what does it mean to women with disabilities?

The International Women’s Day 2021 finds Europe at a critical stage. With COVID-19 and recent backlashes on women’s rights, efforts that had been made on gender equality and empowerment of women in society are being challenged.

The lack of disability and gender inclusive response to COVID-19 has led to more violations of the rights of women and girls with disabilities, and women caring for persons with disabilities. Some women and girls were stuck in institutions during lockdowns, some women and girls were beaten up at home, some mothers were left without support to care for their children with disabilities during months. Women and girls with disabilities have paid the high price for the failure of governments to protect their rights.

This year’s UN Women theme for International Women’s Day #IWD2021 is “Women in leadership: Achieving an equal future in a COVID-19 world.” The theme honors the tremendous efforts by women and girls around the world in shaping a more equal future and recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. In the current context, EDF commemorates and tributes all women and girls with disabilities and women caring for persons with disabilities victims of COVID-19, those who fought fiercely for their rights and lives, and all those still working on breaking the glass ceiling for the right to live, lead and strive in a world where they are often told to be quiet and invisible.

On the International Women’s Day, EDF continues to call on the EU to take measures to advance the rights of women and girls with disabilities in all laws and policies that affect their lives. We call on the EU support the empowerment and full participation of women and girls with disabilities, including through dedicated funding to support the setting up of organisations, networks and groups representative of women and girls with disabilities and defending their rights.

Women and girls with disabilities in Europe and across the world

According to the United Nations, 1 in 5 women across the world has a disability. If we focus on European statistics 60% of the overall population of 100 million persons with disabilities are women and girls.  According to data from 2020 Gender Equality Index published by the European Institute on Gender Equality 22% of women with disabilities are at risk of poverty and at least 6,7% of women with disabilities have unmet needs for medical examination.

In order to empower women and girls with disabilities, it is important that they have a seat at the table of all discussions that concern them. For example, they need to be included in both the disability and women’s movement, and collaboration and work between each movement is critical.  EDF is an active member of the European Women’s Lobby and actively advocate for the rights of women and girls with disabilities towards the European Commission’s services working on gender equality.

Women in leadership. Facts and figures in the European Parliament

  • Currently, 60% of the members of the European Parliament are men and only one Member of the European Parliament is a woman with visible disabilities.
  • The number of women members of the European Parliament increased in 2019, comparing to the 2014. However, 8 member states elected a lower number of women in 2019 than in 2014 highlighting a gap between countries.
  • People with disabilities, including women with disabilities remain deprived of their right to vote in 14 countries of the EU. This is because of discriminatory laws that deprive the right to vote of persons under guardianship.

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 at EU and national level.

Impact of COVID-19 on women and girls with disabilities

Women and girls with disabilities and mother of persons with disabilities have been highly impacted by COVID-19. Read more in this extract from our Human Rights Report on COVID-19.

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Voices that must be heard. Our Women´s Committee

EDF Women’s Committee is composed of 10 members coming from all over Europe and representing different groups of women with disabilities and mothers of persons with disabilities. Its main role is to mainstream gender in all our policies and documents, to raise awareness on the situation of women and girls with disabilities and to work towards the inclusion of women and girls with disabilities in society.