This submission presents an overview of the main barriers faced by indigenous women and marginalized genders with disabilities to fulfil their human rights at the intersection of gender and disability. It also includes the violations that stemmed from the impact of COVID-19 on their lives, given the urgent need to respond to this issue. Additionally, it highlights how existing human rights standards guide States towards addressing these barriers. The submission concludes with recommendations that we hope will help inform the forthcoming General Recommendation from the CEDAW Committee.
As we approach the 20th anniversary of UN Security Council Resolution 1325 on women, peace and security, WEI releases this Fact Sheet on the Rights of Women and Girls with Disabilities in Conflict and Humanitarian Emergencies. Women, girls, and gender non-conforming people with disabilities are disproportionally impacted by conflict and humanitarian emergencies due to multiple and intersecting forms of discrimination that heighten their exclusion and risks. Women with disabilities, particularly those with intellectual and psychosocial disabilities, are particularly vulnerable to sexual and gender-based violence before, during, and after conflict and in humanitarian situations. Women with disabilities also encounter heightened barriers to programs and services in emergency settings, as well as barriers to sexual and reproductive health services.
Despite the distinct challenges facing women with disabilities—and thus the important perspective they can bring to addressing these challenges—women with disabilities are routinely excluded from both peacebuilding processes and recovery following natural disasters. Failure to engage women with disabilities in these efforts perpetuates exclusion, discrimination, and violations of their human rights. Women and girls with disabilities are entitled to the rights and protections under international humanitarian law and international human rights law, enumerated in several international and regional human rights treaties.
Read our new Fact Sheet, published on October 29, 2020, which offers guidelines on what governments must do to realize the rights of women and girls with disabilities in conflict situations.
The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) has drafted the 2020 Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment Policy and has solicited comments from organizations including WEI before it is finalized. Although USAID has indicated that this policy is undergoing review and revision, to date a revised policy has not been issued to this more than twenty-three year old policy.
According to USAID, “the Policy will affirm USAID’s vision of a prosperous and peaceful world in which women and girls, and men and boys enjoy equal economic, social, cultural, civil, and political rights and are equally empowered to secure better lives for themselves, their families, their communities, and their countries. USAID achieves greater and more sustainable development outcomes by integrating gender equality and women’s empowerment throughout our work.”
WEI’s comments on The Policy serve to reiterate to USAID that the inclusion of women and girls with disabilities in the implementation of The Policy is required by the U.S. Agency for International Development’s 1997 USAID Disability Policy Paper, which requires the inclusion and active participation of people with disabilities in USAID-funded programs and activities.
Download this document:
On May 14, 2020, in partnership with Disability Rights International (DRI), WEI submitted comments to the CEDAW Committee to provide feedback on the Committee’s Draft General Recommendation on Trafficking in Women and Girls in the Context of Global Migration. These comments built upon WEI’s previous submission to the Committee to inform its half-day of general discussion in 2019 on the same topic.
WEI and DRI’s comments enumerate suggested line edits to the Committee’s Draft General Recommendation language to better include women and girls with disabilities and their issues. The Draft General Recommendation did not include one reference to women and girls with disabilities and only one reference to disability disaggregated data. To remedy this gap, WEI and DRI offered suggested language changes to address the experience and needs of women and girls with disabilities and recommendations to States on how they can meet their obligations to women and girls with disabilities. Along with specific line edits, WEI and DRI also offered suggested additional paragraphs documenting the experience and barriers faced by women and girls with disabilities who have been or are at risk of being trafficked.
View/Download below. Submission is in English.
WEI collaborated with MADRE, Media Matters for Women, MenEngage Alliance, Nobel Women’s Initiative, OutRight Action International, and Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF) to produce this practical guide for preventing, addressing, and documenting domestic violence during the COVID-19 pandemic.
This guide is intended for policymakers, service providers, civil society organizations, and journalists and, among other recommendations, calls for these actors to ensure intersectionality in addressing domestic violence during the pandemic, including at the intersection of gender and disability.
This is the first part of a forthcoming Toolkit aimed at ensuring a human rights-based approach to addressing domestic violence during COVID-19.
Read the guide:
From Global Coordination to Local Strategies: A Practical Approach to Prevent, Address and Document Domestic Violence under COVID-19 [PDF]
Download guide in Microsoft Word or PDF format:
Ongoing debates around fetal impairment as a legal basis for abortion act as a wedge issue between the disability rights and reproductive rights movements. Disability rights advocates are concerned that laws that expressly permit abortion on grounds of fetal impairment codify the notion that disabled lives are worth less than non-disabled lives. Reproductive rights advocates are concerned that reforming abortion laws to remove fetal impairment grounds—or to expressly ban abortion in the case of a fetal impairment diagnosis—will result in less access to safe abortion and exacerbate the attendant human rights consequences. These tensions are fueled both by advocacy strategies to advance abortion rights that can reinforce harmful disability-related stereotypes and by opponents of abortion rights co-opting disability rights language to impose greater restrictions on abortion access.
Women with disabilities, who live at the intersection of these two movements, care deeply about both protecting reproductive autonomy, including the right to access safe abortion, and dismantling harmful disability-related stigma. Too often, however, their voices are left out of the debate. To remedy this lack of voice and representation in these ongoing debates, Women Enabled International (WEI) conducted a series of consultations with 40 persons with diverse disabilities, who have the biological capacity to become pregnant, and who advocate at the intersection of gender and disability. These consultations provided a safe space in which these advocates from around the globe could discuss specific concerns around this historic tension.
In this framing document, WEI identifies the primary concerns of the women with disabilities who participated in these consultations—as well as the primary concerns of the disability rights and the reproductive rights movements, analyzes the human rights standards that underpin this debate, and applies an intersectional human rights-based approach to posit a way forward.
Download the accessible document:
Abortion and Disability: Towards an Intersectional Human Rights-Based Approach
February 14, 2019 – This submission to the CEDAW Committee was authored to inform its half-day of general discussion on February 22, 2019, to prepare for the elaboration by the CEDAW Committee of a General Recommendation on Trafficking in Women and Girls in the Context of Global Migration focuses on the trafficking of women and girls with disabilities.
In partnership with Disability Rights International (DRI), WEI enumerated the risks facing women and girls with disabilities to all forms of trafficking. Drawing on field research by DRI and the limited other available research addressing the intersection of disability and trafficking, this submission highlights the barriers and enumerates States’ duties to address the barriers that increase this risk- barriers to accessing information on trafficking and sexuality; isolation and institutionalization; social isolation and lack of quality interpersonal relationships; financial and caregiver dependence; impediments to accessing services and justice; unemployment and poverty; and risk factors inherent in global migration situations.
This submission also covers the need to include women and girls who become disabled as a result of being trafficked in policies and programs aimed at combatting trafficking. Lastly, this submission summarizes the relevant international legal standards and offers suggestions for inclusion in CEDAW’s forthcoming General Recommendation.
Download below. Submission is in English.
WEI DRI CEDAW Trafficking and Migration PDF
WEI DRI CEDAW Trafficking and Migration Word Doc
January 14, 2019 – This is a preliminary submission that provides a brief overview of some of the civil and political rights violations facing women, girls, and nonbinary persons with disabilities in the U.S. This submission provides a brief factual overview of the violations women, girls, and nonbinary persons with disabilities face concerning sexual and reproductive health, parenting, gender-based violence, and incarceration. It further provides suggestions for questions that the Human Rights Committee could include in its LOIPR on these topics as they affect women, girls, and nonbinary persons with disabilities. This submission was drafted by Women Enabled International and endorsed by Autistic Women and Nonbinary Network, Human Rights and Gender Justice Clinic at the CUNY School of Law, Inclusion International, U.S. International Council on Disability (USICD), World Institute on Disability, and Robin Wilson-Beattie.
Download below. Publication is in English.
WEI LOIPR Submission PDF
WEI LOIPR Submission Word Doc