Our Work: Commission on the Status of Women

CSW59, March 9-20, 2015

  • March 13, 2015 Women Enabled International President Stephanie Ortoleva, discussant, delivers a statement during the UN Women CSW59 Intergenerational Dialog. United Nations Headquarters, Economic and Social Council Chamber.

    Following is a transcript of the video. You may also download a PDF here.

    Moderator:  I call upon Stephanie Ortoleva, Women Enabled International.

    Stephanie Ortoleva: Good morning everyone. First of all as my feminist foremothers have told me and remind me as I sit here, I of course do not speak on behalf of all women and girls with disabilities, but I merely tell you what they have told me about their lives because we all need to speak for ourselves, and not have others speak for us, which is so often a problem confronted by women and girls with disabilities and by the society in general. I have a few points; I’ll try to do them very quickly.

    First of all, women and girls with disabilities experience violence at a far greater rate than other women and also experience unique forms and have unique consequences of the violence that we experience. Sexual and reproductive health rights and access for women and girls with disabilities manifests itself in many many challenges, not only mere access to physical examinations. For example, the screening that my sister just spoke about - many women with disabilities can’t have those because the tables are inaccessible or the mammogram machines are not usable by women who use wheelchairs, to say nothing of the attitudes of the medical community. I could go on about the various barriers confronted by women and girls with disabilities, most significantly the stereotypes we have experienced. 

    But I also want to address certain issues concerning  government reporting requirements for Beijing plus 20. We did an analysis of a small sample of some country reports and I don’t know that any of you would be shocked to know  that most of these reports never even mention women and girls with disabilities, despite the fact that the Beijing Declaration itself calls upon countries to recognize these rights.  I talk about the access of this very room in which we speak to have our intergenerational dialogue.  My sisters who use wheelchairs would have great difficulty in entering this room.  You may have not noticed any deaf women here during CSW. But mainly the problem has been that there are not sign language interpreters.

    Moderator:  I am sorry to interrupt but I am having a real challenge with time, so...

    Stephanie Ortoleva: So just one last comment, please. Women and girls with disabilities are women, too. We call upon the women’s movement, UN Women and our government actors to not forget us as we are often the forgotten sisters in these dialogues. Thank You.


  • March 13, 2015 Catalina Devandas, Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities speaks at the WEI HI SU Side Event CSW59

  • March 16, 2015  Accusations of Witchcraft & Women & Girls with Disabilities, Women Enabled International president Stephanie Ortoleva statement at CSW59, March 2015. Download PDF | Download Word Doc
  • March 8, 2015 CSW59 Update Stephanie Ortoleva, President of Women Enabled International, will be speaking at a number of events during the 59th Session of the Commision on the Status of Women (CSW59) in New York March 9-20. Download this calendar of events.
    CSW59 Events PDF   CSW59 Events Word doc (originally posted March 2)
  • March 8, 2015 A review of CSW Reports by some governments. CSW Reports Review PDF     CSW Reports Review Word doc
  • March 7, 2015 Download the NGO CSW FORUM HANDBOOK 2015
  • March 2, 2015 Women with disabilities are women too – we will not be the forgotten sisters in the dialogue. Women Enabled International President Stephanie Ortoleva speaks to CBM about why women and girls with disabilities must be included in both the disability and women's right movements and the post 2015 framework. Read the Interview.

  • intl day of action womens health logoParticipate in the March for Gender Equality and Women's Rights in New York City on International Women's Day, March 8, 2015.

    The March for Gender Equality and Women's Rights is being organized by UN Women in collaboration with the City of New York, NGO-CSW, the Working Group on Girls, the Man Up Campaign and the UN Women for Peace Association. The march will take place on International Women's Day (March 8) and commemorate the 20-year anniversary of the Fourth World Conference on Women and the adoption of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action. This event will celebrate the achievements women and girls have made around the world since 1995. It will also be an opportunity to underscore the need for political commitment to accelerate action to achieve gender equality by 2030. We will start at the Dag Hammarskjold Plaza (47th street and 2nd avenue) at 2:30 pm and end at Times Square (42nd street and 7th avenue) at 5:00 p.m. The march will be divided into three parts:

    Part 1—A lively start at Dag Hammarskjold Plaza. The march will be flagged off by the UN Women Executive Director following a short program of 30 minutes. Eminent celebrities, a New York indigenous women's group, and a girls' dance troupe are on the programme.

    Part 2—A 1.5-hour march from Dag Hammarskjold to Times Square. The march will be a celebration that will include singing, marching, raising slogans, and showing solidarity for gender equality and women's rights. At the same time, the march will help point out the existing gaps and barriers to achieving gender equality.

    Part 3—An evocative closing at Times Square. The 30-minute program will consist of raising a collective torch to showcase intergenerational partnership. The program will bring together Ambassador Gertrude Mongella, the UN Women Executive Director, the First Lady of New York, the UN Secretary General (TBD) and others. The program will conclude with a song.

    We are preparing banners, posters, and signs calling for gender equality and women's rights. We also encourage your organizations to bring your messages to the event and messages and materials for campaigns regarding Beijing+20, gender equality and women and girls' empowerment.

    Extensive outreach and mobilization is underway with an intention to bring between 10,000 and 20,000 people to march for gender equality. The last march of this magnitude for gender equality in New York City took place in the 1970s. We invite you to join the march and to spread the word far and wide using the hashtags #Beijing20 and #genderequalitymarch. You can also go to @UN_Women for coverage of the march. Please disseminate the attached flyer widely through your networks and social media.

    We welcome you to focus on any of the themes or critical areas of concern that are most relevant to your organization, and we look forward to seeing you at the march! Please contact my colleague Ravi Karkara, Strategic Adviser Partnership to the Deputy Executive Director UN-Women who is coordinating the march (ravi.karkara@unwomen.org)
  • August 6, 2014 The Beijing+20 review must include women and girls with disabilities! We call on governments and UN Women to include women and girls with disabilities in the critical forthcoming Beijing+20 Review at CSW59 in 2015. To this end, Women Enabled International participated in the United States Government's consultations with civil society as they prepare their CSW+20 Report and we raised specific questions that they must address in the report. We encourage all to engage with their governments as this process moves forward.

Read Women Enabled's Comments and Questions to the Government of the United States (PDF) 

Read Women Enabled's Comments and Questions to the Government of the United States (Word doc file)

Read Women Enabled International's comparison of the Beijing Declaration and the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (PDF) 

Read Women Enabled International's comparison of the Beijing Declaration and the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (Word docx file)

For information on CSW59 2015 preparations, see www.unwomen.org/en/csw/csw59-2015/preparations

update to a post dated May 28, 2014



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