Yet many women with disability also take up leadership positions within their communities, nationally and internationally.
“Countries with more gender equality have better economic growth. Companies with more women leaders perform better. Peace agreements that include women are more durable. Parliaments with more women enact more legislation on key social issues such as health, education, anti-discrimination and child support. The evidence is clear: equality for women means progress for all.” Ban Ki-Moon, Secretary General of the UN, 2014
Women with disability in Australia
PWDA and the rights of women and girls with disability
WWDA and PWDA have collaborated for over two decades regarding advocacy against the forced sterilisation of women and girls with disability
. In March 2013 we made a submission
to the Senate Inquiry into the Involuntary or Coerced Sterilisation of People with Disabilities in Australia and facilitated the involvement of women with disability in the Senate’s consultation process. WWDA also made a submission
and assisted women with disability to tell their stories. The Inquiry Report
was released on 25 October 2013.
In September 2013 PWDA was part of the Australian civil society delegation to the UN in Geneva, representing the voice of people with disability in Australia during the review of Australia’s progress in implementing the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD). WWDA also participated in this delegation
. The delegation raised the issue of forced or coerced non-therapeutic sterilisation, and the Concluding Observations
by the Committee for the CRPD urged Australia ‘to adopt uniform national legislation prohibiting the sterilization of boys and girls with disabilities, and adults with disabilities, in the absence of their prior, fully informed and free consent’.
PWDA will continue to fight for the sexual and reproductive rights of women and girls with disability everywhere.
PWDA is also an official partner of the White Ribbon
campaign to end men’s violence against women. White Ribbon Australia seeks to change the attitudes and behaviours that lead to and perpetuate men’s violence against women, by engaging boys and men to lead social change.
Training and Education
PWDA provides a range of training and education programs that deal with rights, violence, sexual assault, and domestic violence.
For example, the Responding to Sexual Assault
training is directed to service providers, and is designed to support them to provide appropriate and accessible support and care to people with disability who have experienced sexual violence or rape.
PWDA also offers training to service providers and women with intellectual disability about domestic violence
. This is primarily a prevention program, specifically designed to prevent personal, intimate partner, domestic and sexual violence before it happens. It takes a broad approach, aimed at both service providers and women with intellectual disability, to ensure coherence in supporting women in their personal lives. This training was rolled out across Australia last year, and PWDA will be providing further sessions this year.
PWDA also coordinated the Sexual Assault in Disability and Aged Care
(SADA) project which provides a framework for action in which organisations work together to protect vulnerable people in care settings, raise the awareness of the issues of sexual assault amongst people with disability, and older people in care in the wider community and provide resources and training.
International representation & participation
PWDA was at the forefront of civil society’s involvement in the negotiation of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), and strongly advocated
for the rights of women and girls with disability to be recognised in a specific article as well as mainstreamed throughout the Convention. For example, see here to read the interventions
made by PWDA in the 6th
Ad Hoc sessions of the Convention negotiations.
PWDA also played a leadership role in the development of Disability Rights Now
, the Australian Civil Society Report to the UN regarding Australia’s progress in implementation of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD). Issues and concerns for women and girls with disability in Australia are incorporated throughout this report, regarding forced sterilisation, violence, discrimination and inadequate access to healthcare, discrimination in employment and remuneration, and overrepresentation in the prison system.
Over the past fifteen years, PWDA has proudly supported the capacity-building of women leaders with disability from a range of Asia-Pacific countries, particularly through the Pacific Women’s Committee of the Pacific Disability Forum
). Our status as an organisation with special consultative status to the Economic and Social Council of the UN
(ECOSOC) has allowed us to include emerging leaders with disability from the Pacific and Australia on a number of PWDA delegations to the UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) and the Conference of States Parties (COSP) to the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) in New York.
58th session of the UN Commission on the Status of Women
The fifty-eighth session of the Commission on the Status of Women
will take place at United Nations Headquarters in New York from 10 to 21 March 2014. Representatives of Member States
, including Australia, UN entities, and non-governmental organisations (NGOs)
from all regions of the world attend the session.
The priority theme for this 58th session is: Challenges and achievements in the implementation of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) for women and girls. The MDGs set out key areas of action to eradicate world poverty, and this agenda is critical for women and girls with disability.
Women with disability in Australia will be represented at this event by WWDA Vice-President, Margie Charlesworth. She will participate as part of the Australian Women Against Violence Alliances
(AWAVA). PWDA congratulates Margie and wishes her well in this important task.
PWDA has a vision of a socially just, accessible, and inclusive community, in which the human rights, citizenship, contribution, potential and diversity of all people with disability are reocgnised, respected and celebrated. Realising gender equality is key to achieving this vision, and PWDA will continue to work towards equal rights for women and girls.
Links and Resources
International Women’s Day
International Women's Day 2014 Theme: INSPIRING CHANGE
Check here to find an IWD event near you!
UN Women Australia
International Women Day Wikipedia
International Women’s Day Facebook
People with Disability Australia
Individual and group advocacy service
Responding to sexual assault training
Domestic violence and women with intellectual disability training
Advocacy against non-therapeutic sterilisation
Violence, abuse and neglect issues
Australian Civil Society Parallel Report Group
UN Ad Hoc Committee sessions drafting the CRPD
The Pacific Disability Forum
Partner organisations and supported projects
Disability Rights Now
Stop the Violence
Shut-In Campaign to close institutions
Women With Disabilities Australia (WWDA)
Women With Disabilities Australian Capital Territory (WWDACT)
Women With Disabilities South Australia (WWDSA)
Women With Disabilities Victoria (WWDV)
Women With Disabilities Western Australia (WWDWA)
Australian Women Against Violence Alliances (AWAVA)
The White Ribbon Campaign to stop violence against women
DisAbled Women's Network of Canada and Learning Network Resource on Violence Against