Published February 2017
Women Enabled International is pleased to release our 2016 Annual Report highlighting the accomplishments we've made this year.
December 20, 2016
In the twenty-first century, women across the globe continue to experience gender-based discrimination that impedes the full realization of their human rights. Women are continually denied access to basic healthcare, housing, education, work and social security.
Women and girls with disabilities in particular encounter multiple and intersecting forms of discrimination on the basis of both gender and ability, including high rates of violence, lack of access to justice, and denial of sexual and reproductive health information and services.
International human rights law calls on governments to dismantle legal, structural, social, economic, and other barriers that women face in achieving equality and realizing their human rights. Human rights advocacy can be an effective tool for holding governments to account for their obligations under international human rights law and pushing for effective implementation of human rights and gender equality.
Women Enabled International’s soon-to-be-released toolkit seeks to empower women with disabilities and organizations, working on their behalf to make use of available U.N. human rights mechanisms to ensure that the human rights violations women with disabilities experience receive redress and to make sure that statements, recommendations, observations, and guidance from the U.N. incorporate an intersectional gender and disability rights perspective.
Increased attention to and guidance on how international human rights standards apply to the specific human rights issues facing women and girls with disabilities will help advance the rights of women and girls with disabilities worldwide.
January 30, 2017 Women Enabled International Submission to the Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial, Summary or Arbitrary Killings on Domestic Violence and Infanticide Regarding Women and Girls with Disabilities.
On January 30, 2017, WEI responded to a call for submissions by the U.N. Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial, Summary, or Arbitrary Killing to support the Special Rapporteur’s efforts to incorporate a gender-sensitive approach to extrajudicial, summary, or arbitrary killing into her work. WEI’s submission provides information on the high rates of domestic violence that women and girls with disabilities face, and the lack of access to justice—factors that can elevate the risk of domestic violence escalating and leading to arbitrary killing. The submission also identifies factors that contribute to heightened rates of infanticide of children, and especially girls, with disabilities. The submission urges the Special Rapporteur to consider how different characteristics, such as disability, intersect with gender to expose women and girls to a heightened risk of arbitrary killings. The submission also identifies core state obligations to address the underlying factors that contribute to a heightened risk of women and girls with disabilities to arbitrary killings, including stigma, a lack of support for individuals with disabilities and their families, and issues surrounding access to protective and rehabilitative services and justice mechanisms for victims of gender-based violence with disabilities. The submission also highlights the challenges presented by the lack of disaggregated data on violence, femicide, and infanticide directed at women and girls with disabilities.
January 30, 2017 WEI submitted comments to the UN CEDAW Committee on the CEDAW Committee’s Draft General Recommendation addressing gender-related dimensions in disaster risk reduction (DRR) in the face of a changing climate. WEI’s submission, which was endorsed by 10 other non-governmental organizations from around the world, identifies unique barriers that women with disabilities face in the context of natural disasters. WEI then makes specific suggestions on how the CEDAW Committee could edit draft General Recommendation to better address the specific barriers that women with disabilities encounter in emergency settings.
This submission was endorsed by: Advocacy for Women with Disability Initiative (Nigeria); Agate Center for Women with Special Needs (Armenia); Legal Defence and Assistance Project (LEDAP) (Nigeria); National Union of Women with Disabilities of Uganda (NUWODU); Programa de Acción por la Igualdad y la Inclusión Social (PAIIS) (Colombia); Samarthyam - Women with Disabilities Forum for Action (India); Shanta Memorial Rehabilitation Centre (India); Sisters of Frida (UK); Magdalena Szarota, Doctoral Research Student, Centre for Disability Research, Lancaster University and Co-Founder, Association of Disabled Women ONE.pl (Poland); and Women with Disabilities India Network (WWDIN).
January 28, 2017 WEI and UN Population Fund (UNFPA) Standards and Implementation Tool in Development
UNFPA engaged Women Enabled International (WEI) to research and draft the Standards and Implementation Tool to provide guidance for key stakeholders on the provision of quality, human rights-based sexual and reproductive health services and gender-based violence services for women and young people with disabilities.
The purpose of the Tool is to provide practical and concrete guidance to key stakeholders who develop and implement programs, policies, and laws around access to sexual and reproductive healthcare and gender-based violence, with a particular focus on service providers, to ensure that such efforts conform with State’s human rights obligations to respect, protect, and fulfill the rights of women and young people with disabilities in these crucial areas.
Women Enabled International (WEI) received generous funding from an anonymous donor for a Survey Project to foster a greater understanding of human rights advocacy for the rights of women and girls with disabilities, by disabled women ourselves and within the women's rights and disability rights movements,. Through an online survey and interviews, WEI produces this comprehensive report of the field of advocates for the rights of women and girls with disabilities globally and nationally, released on March 8, 2016, International Women's Day.
10/24/2016 update: Respondent appendices have been updated - see Appendices IIIA and IIIB.
WEI Global Disabled Womens Rights Advocacy Report - The Funding Gap (PDF format) | (Word docx format)
Women Enabled International, working with Women with Disabilities India Network, compiled this submission for India’s upcoming third Universal Periodic Review at the Human Rights Council in Geneva. Drawing on India’s international commitments, this submission focuses on violence against women with disabilities, access to sexual and reproductive health services, and access to justice. As the submission illustrates, women with disabilities in India disproportionately face violations of these rights, due to discrimination based on both their gender and disability and stereotypes about their capability, sexuality, and role within families. The submission provides targeted questions and recommendations on these topics for India’s UPR, which will take place in April/May 2017.
Read PDF WEI WWDIN India UPR Submission September 2016.pdf
Read Word file WEI WWDIN India UPR Submission September 2016.docx
WEI and Sisters of Frida Joint Submission to the Human Rights Council’s Universal Periodic Review of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
Women Enabled International and Sisters of Frida, a collective of women with disabilities in the UK, compiled this submission for the UK’s upcoming third Universal Periodic Review (UPR) at the Human Rights Council in Geneva. This submission focuses on the continuing problem of violence against women with disabilities in the UK, as they face higher rates of sexual violence and experience domestic violence at twice the rate of other women. Women with disabilities are also less likely to have the economic independence to leave an abuser, have fewer accessible options for support services, and face increased barriers to accessing justice, due to disability-related stereotypes and denials of reasonable accommodation. The submission provides targeted questions and recommendations on these topics for states to utilize during the UK’s UPR, which will take place in April/May 2017.
Read PDF WEI and SOF UK UPR Submission September 2016.pdf
Read Word file WEI and SOF UK UPR Submission September 2016.docx
WEI Submission to the CEDAW Committee on its update to its General Recommendation No. 19 on Violence Against Women by WEI, with sign on support from eight non-governmental organizations around the world.
This submission was drafted by Women Enabled International (WEI) and is endorsed by: Advocacy for Women with Disabilities Initiative (AWWDI) (Nigeria); Association of Disabled Women, ONE.pl (Poland); CREA (India); Handicap International's Making It Work Initiative on Gender and Disability (France); Legal Defence and Assistance Project (LEDAP) (Nigeria); National Union of Women with Disabilities of Uganda (NUWODU); Shanta Memorial Rehabilitation Centre (India); Sisters of Frida (United Kingdom); and Women with Disabilities India Network (WWDIN).
Based on the specific issues that women with disabilities experience when exercising their right to be free from violence, this submission provides targeted comments to the CEDAW Committee on its Draft update to General Recommendation No. 19 (1992): accelerating elimination of gender-based violence against women. These comments focus both on how to more explicitly include women with disabilities in the draft and also how to ensure that the draft’s provisions adequately address the barriers and issues that women with disabilities disproportionately face when exercising their right to be free from violence. As such, this submission provides both suggested amendments to the current paragraphs of the draft General Recommendation and suggestions for additional paragraphs and sections to include in the draft.
The amendments suggested in this submission are important for our work on the rights of women with disabilities for several reasons. Although many of the countries that have ratified CEDAW have also ratified the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), and the CRPD Committee recently issued a general comment on the rights of women and girls with disabilities that addresses gender-based violence, there is not a perfect overlap between states parties to the two conventions. Additionally, although the CRPD Committee has weighed in on many of the issues that lead to violence against women with disabilities—including denying them legal capacity and arbitrarily detaining them in institutions, based on disability—many states have not fully adopted the human rights-based approach to these issues and still allow, and frequently legally permit, these violations to take place. As the CEDAW Committee is the human rights leader in efforts to eliminate violence against women, many states and our organizations would benefit from the CEDAW Committee’s additional guidance on these issues. Finally, by ensuring that women with disabilities are better included in the updated General Recommendation No. 19, the CEDAW Committee will be recognizing the unique experiences of women with disabilities while also including them in the framework of women’s rights, helping to reduce stigma targeted at women with disabilities by ensuring that their experiences are no longer invisible and that they are fully recognized as women and as rights holders.
Read PDF WEI CEDAW GR19 Update Submission September 30 2016.pdf
Read Word file WEI CEDAW GR19 Update Submission September 30 2016.docx
September 2016 New publication on violence against children with disabilities
Plan International has released new research on violence against children with disabilities and their access to protection. The study entitled “Protect us! Inclusion of children with disabilities in child protection” was conducted by the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. It documents the extremely high levels of school-based violence against children with disabilities and identifies important barriers within the child protection system which stop children with disabilities from reporting violence and getting support, and also offers recommendations. An accessible, executive summary and the full report is available for download at this link: http://plan-international.org/protect-us
Date: Thursday, May 19, 2016 Location: Conference Room B3-3 Time: 13:30-14:30
Women with Disabilities are the world’s largest minority. In the session, presenters will share strategies to link women with disabilities with Sustainable Development Goals implementation and build a transformative cross-sectoral advocacy platform to advance sexuality, disability rights, women’s rights and human rights.
Stephanie Ortoleva, President & Legal Director, Women Enabled International
Andrea Parra, Women Enabled International and Aquelarre Trans, Colombia
Nidhi Goyal, Programme Director, Point of View and Stand Up Comedian
Katrina Anderson, Senior Human Rights Counsel, Center for Reproductive Rights
Tanzila Khan, Founder, Creative Alley, Women Deliver Young Leader, Pakistan
Rupsa Mallik, Director, Programmes and Innovation, CREA
Updated June 22, 2016 Originally posted April 23, 2016 As we all know, the news is filled with discussions regarding the Zika virus, microcephaly, access to abortion, and women's sexual and reproductive rights—sometimes from a medical perspective, sometimes from a community health perspective, sometimes from a women's rights perspective, and occasionally from a disability rights perspective. When confronted with such an emotional issue in a climate of medical uncertainty and insecurity, nuanced language is often not reflected in the dialogues. After reading many of these perspectives, Women Enabled International (WEI) sets out a more nuanced perspective to frame a discussion that reflects the inherent rights and dignity of all affected by the Zika virus based on an intersectional disability and women's human rights perspective. We begin with an overview of the key medical facts as we understand them based on current scientific evidence, recognizing that new information is emerging on a regular basis, to ensure that this conversation is grounded in a common understanding of existing evidence. We conclude with an overview of some of the core international legal obligations that underpin the perspectives we layout in this document.
Please see WEI's Talking Points below in English, Spanish and Portuguese. We hope these are helpful and that they contribute to the discussions. Please contact us with any questions at Info@WomenEnabled.org. We greatly appreciate Translators Without Borders for these translations into Spanish and Portuguese .
Women Enabled International's own President and Founder, Stephanie Ortoleva, was honored on May 2nd by Women’s eNews at their New York City Gala, as a leader for the 21st Century. During the event, Stephanie was recognized as a leader who "…has made it her mission to change the rules that constrict the lives of women and girls across the globe." Watch a short excerpt of Stephanie's acceptance speech from the gala here:
January 2016 Stephanie Ortoleva named one of Women's E-News 21 Leaders of 2016.
Stephanie Ortoleva, Esq. By Eryn Mathewson, Women's E-News
Stephanie Ortoleva jokes that she has never lost her vision because that would imply that she put it somewhere. She prefers to just describe the condition she has lived with since childhood as degenerative low vision. This New York City native is not shy about the fact that she is blind. The prominent activist gives her age as somewhere between 18 and 80, though she says she acts like an 18-year-old most of the time. The purple streaks in her hair are the proof.
Stephanie Ortoleva, Esq. is the founder and president of Women Enabled International, based in Washington, D.C. She and her staff work to advocate for the human rights of women and girls, especially those with disabilities. The team is developing projects that map and promote collaboration among women's rights and disability advocates, laying the groundwork for cross-cutting advocacy. " . . . there are many wonderful women who are activists with disabilities, and I wish all of my sisters would get powerful attention."
Her organization's work "has grown and strengthened human rights law, holding states accountable for their obligations to respect, protect, and fulfill the rights of women and girls with disabilities," Ortoleva said. Fortunately, limited vision was not the only major development of Ortoleva's youth. It was around this time that the budding women's and disability rights activist was told that she was too opinionated and asked too many questions. Instead of interpreting these observations as insults, she saw them as good reasons to go to law school.
A degree from Hofstra University's progressive law school enabled her to become an international human rights lawyer. Her focus is on the intersectionality of women's rights, disability rights, gender-based violence and education for women and girls. Eventually, she consulted on these issues for governmental, non-governmental and international agencies, and she worked as a human rights lawyer with the U.S. State Department. She has led discussions at prominent forums like the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women and she has critiqued these institutions on how well they accommodate participants with disabilities.
When she is not at the office, Ortoleva serves as a member of the American Bar Association Commission on Disability Rights. She is also on the boards of several other disability rights and women's rights groups. In her spare time, Ortoleva hangs out with her husband of over 30 years and her orchids. Ortoleva is credited with bringing attention and resources to women's and disability rights, but she emphatically reminds supporters that "there are many wonderful women who are activists with disabilities, and I wish all of my sisters would get powerful attention." Stephanie will be honored at the Women's E-News award ceremony on May 2, 2016 in New York City -- see their website for event details www.WomensENews.org
View this article at http://womensenews.org/2016/01/21-women-leaders-2016-meet-three-powerhouses-who-rise-up-for-the-marginalized/
Stephanie Ortoleva, Esq.,
President and Founder
Women Enabled International, Inc.
1875 Connecticut Ave NW, 10th Floor
Washingon D.C. 20009
Women Enabled International facebook
Stephanie Ortoleva on linkedin
Women Enabled International on linkedin
© Copyright 2010, 2017 by Women Enabled International, Inc. Permission granted for non-commercial use. CSS layout by Matthew James Taylor.