News & Events Archive

An archived list of news from 2011-2016. Continue reading below for news in reverse chronological order, beginning with December 2016, or jump directly to the following months:

DEC 2016  NOV 2016  OCT 2016  SEP 2016  AUG 2016  JUL 2016  JUN 2016  MAY 2016  APR 2016  JAN 2016 

DEC 2015  OCT 2015  AUG 2015  JUL 2015  MAY 2015  APR 2015  MAR 2015  FEB 2015  JAN 2015 

DEC 2014  OCT 2014  AUG 2014  MAY 2014  APR 2014  MAR 2014  FEB 2014  JAN 2014 

JAN 2013  FEB 2013  MAR 2013  APR 2013  JUN 2013  JUL 2013  AUG 2013  SEPT 2013  OCT 2013  NOV 2013

JUNE 2012  JULY 2012  AUG 2012   SEPT 2012

JUNE 2011   AUG 2011   OCT 2011   NOV 2011  DEC 2011               

For current news and events please click here.   A full calendar is available here.
 


  • WEI accountABILITY Toolkit to be Published in Summer 2017


    December 20, 2016

    A woman draws a network on a global map.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.

    Click here for more information on this exciting project

  • November 12, 2016 WEI submitted this short report on the rights of girls with disabilities to the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) for a forthcoming OHCHR report, Protection of the Rights of the Child and 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. While addressing the question, "What approaches to implementing the 2030 Agenda would ensure the protection of the rights of all children, and that no child is left behind?," this report examines the disparities that girls with disabilities face in accessing education and exercising the right to health, including sexual and reproductive health. It also notes the higher rates of violence, including gender-based violence, against girls with disabilities, as well as barriers they face in accessing justice and participating in accountability mechanisms. Finally, the report includes recommendations for how states can implement the Sustainable Development Goals in a way that respects, protects, and fulfills the human rights of girls with disabilities.

    WEI OHCHR Submission for Report on Child Rights and 2030 SDG Agenda October 17, 2016 Final.pdf

    WEI OHCHR Submission for Report on Child Rights and 2030 SDG Agenda October 17, 2016 Final.docx


  • November 12, 2016 WEI submitted this short report on the rights of girls with disabilities to the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) for a forthcoming OHCHR report, Protection of the Rights of the Child and 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. While addressing the question, "What approaches to implementing the 2030 Agenda would ensure the protection of the rights of all children, and that no child is left behind?," this report examines the disparities that girls with disabilities face in accessing education and exercising the right to health, including sexual and reproductive health. It also notes the higher rates of violence, including gender-based violence, against girls with disabilities, as well as barriers they face in accessing justice and participating in accountability mechanisms. Finally, the report includes recommendations for how states can implement the Sustainable Development Goals in a way that respects, protects, and fulfills the human rights of girls with disabilities.

    WEI OHCHR Submission for Report on Child Rights and 2030 SDG Agenda October 17, 2016 Final.pdf

    WEI OHCHR Submission for Report on Child Rights and 2030 SDG Agenda October 17, 2016 Final.docx


  • November 12, 2016 WEI prepared this short submission on the rights of women and girls with psychosocial disabilities sent to the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) for a forthcoming OHCHR report on mental health and human rights. Following up on a Human Rights Council resolution on this topic, the OHCHR report will focus on violations of in the context of mental health provision and interpreting legal standards to ensure the respect, protection, and fulfillment of all human rights. WEI's submission focuses on violations faced disproportionately by women and girls with psychosocial disabilities, including forced and coerced reproductive health procedures, gender-based violence, and barriers to accessing justice. It also provides interpretations of relevant articles of the CRPD and other human rights conventions, with recommendations about how states should implement these conventions to tackle human rights abuses against women and girls with psychosocial disabilities.

    WEI OHCHR Mental Health and Human Rights October 31, 2016 FINAL.pdf

    WEI OHCHR Mental Health and Human Rights October 31, 2016 FINAL.docx


  • November 12, 2016 WEI--alongside local partners Advocacy for Women with Disabilities Initiative (AWWDI), Legal Defence and Assistance Project (LEDAP), and Inclusive Friends Association--submitted a shadow letter to the CEDAW Committee to help the Committee develop a list of issues for its forthcoming review of Nigeria. The letter highlights that, because of their disability and their gender, women and girls with disabilities in Nigeria face multiple layers of discrimination and stereotypes about their capabilities that mean they are given less priority in families, have less access to education, and are considered less eligible for marriage or to found families. Additionally, women and girls with disabilities are subjected to violence--particularly sexual violence--at higher rates, and in Nigeria's conflict zones, they are frequently left behind when violence comes to their communities, with little access to justice or services. Finally, women with disabilities find that sexual and reproductive health information and services, including those to prevent and address HIV, are not accessible to them and that stereotypes they do not have sex and cannot become parents are pervasive. The shadow letter concludes with several recommendations for the CEDAW Committee to include when developing the list of issues for its review of Nigeria's women's rights record and for concluding observations following the review in July 2017.

    WEI and Nigeria Partners, CEDAW LOI Submission Women with Disabilities October 14, 2016 FINAL.docx

    WEI and Nigeria Partners, CEDAW LOI Submission Women with Disabilities October 14, 2016 FINAL.pdf


  • November 1, 2016 If you are a United States Government Employee, select WEI when you make your donations for the Combined Federal Campaign this giving season, which ends Dec. 15, 2016. Our CFC number is 44169.   Help us make a difference!
  • New Book! The first time 17-year-old Nujeen Mustafa saw the sea, she and her wheelchair were hauled on to an overcrowded dinghy headed for Europe. Growing up in the Syrian cities of Manbij and Aleppo, Mustafa – who was born with cerebral palsy – rarely left the house. Last September, Mustafa traveled 3,500 miles across hostile borders and perilous seas to Germany in a wheelchair, with the help of her sister. She describes the odyssey in a new book “Nujeen: One Girl’s Incredible Journey from War-Torn Syria in a Wheelchair,” co-authored by veteran British journalist Christina Lamb. A year after her journey, Mustafa lives outside Cologne, Germany, with two of her sisters and four nieces. In Syria, she was largely self-taught and learned English by watching American soap opera “Days of our Lives.” She now attends a school for people with disabilities and has learned German. Meanwhile, Mustafa is still waiting for documents to allow her to stay in Germany and apply for her parents to join her from Turkey.


    Nujeen: One Girl's Incredible Journey from War-Torn Syria in a Wheelchair
    by Nujeen Mustafa and Christina Lamb
  • WEI Global Women with Disabilities Rights Advocacy Report
    Originally Published March 8, 2016. Project Last Updated January 14, 2017


    A woman draws a network on a global map.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.

    Click here for project details and mapping project report.

    8/31/2016 update: A new supporting document entitled "The Funding Gap" has been added to the WEI Survey and Mapping Project.

    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)

  • October 2016


    WEI Statement on Women's Rights & Disability Rights at "A Rights-Based Approach to Zika: Putting Women and Girls at the Center of the Global Response," organized by the Center for Health and Gender Equity (CHANGE), Anis - Instituto de Bioetica, International Planned Parenthood Federation/Western Hemisphere Region (IPPF/WHR), and Promundo-US, in partnership with the Embassy of Sweden, Held on Thursday, September 29
  • October 2016 Three New Universal Periodic Review Submissions have been created.

  1. WEI and Women with Disabilities India Network Joint Submission to the Human Rights Council’s  Universal Periodic Review of India

    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

  2. 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

  3. 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

  • Updated August 24, 2016 Audio added; Originally posted May 15, 2016

    WEI president Stephanie Ortoleva presents at Women Deliver global conference in Copenhagen in May 2016.

    Sexual & Reproductive Health & Rights of Women with Disabilities

    Click here to listen to the audio for Women with Disabilities - Towards Inclusive Politics & Policies

    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 July 30, 2016  

    WEI President Stephanie Ortoleva expresses outrage over CRPD Committee elections - watch new video clip from the 9th Session of the Conference of States Parties to the CRPD.


    Women Enabled International statement on the CRPD Committee elections (originally posted June 16, 2016)

    Women enabled International is horrified about the results of the 9th Conference of States Parties election of the new members of the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. Not one woman was elected! We need the voices and experiences of women and girls with disabilities to be represented on this important Committee and, as studies worldwide have shown, electing women to office is the best way to ensure that our needs as disabled women and girls are addressed and effectively reflected in human rights law and international policy and development.




    infographic showing 17 people of one type and 1 of anotherWe must point out that the CRPD itself has clearly spoken on this issue: CRPD Article 34(4) states:

    4. The members of the Committee shall be elected by States Parties, consideration being given to equitable geographical distribution, representation of the different forms of civilization and of the principal legal systems, balanced gender representation and participation of experts with disabilities.

    We note that it was under the leadership of the six women who served on the CRPD Committee that a draft General Comment on CRPD Article 6 on Women was drafted and we passionately hope that it will be adopted in the July CRPD Committee session as clarity and guidance is needed on the understanding of this important CRPD provision.

    Women Enabled International President and Legal Director Stephanie Ortoleva Stated: "Where are the women? The lack of 'balanced gender representation' as required under CRPD Article 34(4) for the CRPD Committee is certainly a dark day for the rights of women and girls with disabilities. we must mobilize to ensure that the next election in 2018 is a gamechanger and results in even greater gender balance. The time to start organizing is NOW!"

    Watch the Women enabled International website and social media for further calls to action!
  • 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 .

    English WEI Talking Points Zika, Microcephaly, Womens Rights and Disability Rights PDF  |   Word docx file

    Espanol WEI Temas de debate: Zika, microcefalia, derechos de la mujer y derechos de las personas con discapacidad PDF    |   Word docx file

    Portuguese WEI Pontos de Discussão: Zika, Microcefalia, Direitos das Mulheres e Direitos das Pessoas com Deficiência PDF    |  Word docx file

  • May 11, 2016 Women Enabled International President Stephanie Ortoleva was named one of Women's eNews' 21 Leaders for the 21st Century in 2016 — She Rises Up for Disabled Women and Girls!

    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:


     

  • May 10, 2016 Together with the Human Rights and Gender Justice Clinic at CUNY School of Law, Women Enabled International submitted this amicus brief in the case of I.V. v. Bolivia, before the Inter-American Court of Human Rights. I.V., a Peruvian political refugee, was forcibly sterilized during a cesarean section in 2000. This case marks the first time that the Inter-American Court will consider the human rights implications of sterilization without consent, a practice that is disproportionately perpetrated against women who encounter high rates of stigma, such as women living with HIV, poor women, ethnic or national minorities or women with disabilities because some health care providers believe that these women should not have children or that they are unable to make reproductive decisions on their own behalf. Our amicus brief emphasizes the severe physical and mental harms that forced sterilization imposes on women—16 years after her sterilization, I.V. still acutely feels the emotional and psychological toll of having been sterilized without her consent—and analyzes prevailing international standards to demonstrate that forced sterilization is a form of cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment and, in some cases, may amount to torture. We urge the Inter-American Court to join U.N. and European human rights experts in recognizing the gravity of this human rights violation.
  • 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. We hope these are helpful and that they contribute to the discussions.
  • 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/

  • January 2016 The Right to Adequate Housing for Persons with Disabilities Living in Cities – Urban Women with Disabilities
    As established in international law and the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda, it is necessary to pay attention to the rights and needs of persons with disabilities. Persons with disabilities are disproportionately represented in the poorest quintile of the population, and face additional challenges due to discriminatory laws and policies, environmental barriers, and lack of support services that would enable the enjoyment of the right to adequate housing on an equal basis with others. This study reviews the literature on the meaning and impact of the right to adequate housing for persons with disabilities in cities. It uses the foundational framework of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR), and demonstrates how the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) provides a new understanding of this complex right. The authors link the right to adequate housing not only to other international treaties, but also to the diverse groups of individuals who are persons with disabilities and the complexity of the identities involved. They outline major types of barriers that persons with disabilities encounter (physical inaccessibility, lack of access to transportation services, insecurity of tenure, among others), and identify trends in relation to policy and legal framework and national and sub-national solutions to the realization of the rights of persons with disabilities. The report takes a human rights-based approach to development of human settlements that offer equal opportunities to persons with disabilities. The report offers three case studies that highlight some good practices and topics worthy of further inquiry. Read more.
  • January 2016 WEI CSW60 Side Panel Announced. Sustainable Development Goals or Sidelining Disabled Girls?: Making SDGs Stand for All Women and Girls March 17, 2016 Read more.

2015

  • December 2015 WEI Comments on United States Department of Justice Guidance on Gender-Biased Policing: Who's Missing?Disabled Women Say: Although there is much to commend in the United States Department of Justice (DOJ) Guidance on gender-biased policing for women generally, once again, women with disabilities are missing and ignored! The sadly cursory treatment of the issues confronting women with disabilities in situations of domestic violence and other forms of gender-based violence and assault is very disheartening and devastating to the lives of the thousands of disabled women in the United States who may call on the police for assistance.
    Read the report.

  • October 2015 New HRW report on access to education for children with disabilities. A new Human Rights Watch (HRW) report documents the challenges to accessing education for the approximately 540,000 children with disabilities in Russia. The report highlights key issues in specialized schools and the quality of education, as well as later challenges of securing meaningful professional skills necessary to secure employment. The report provides viable recommendations and proposes solutions to address these issues to make inclusive education accessible to children and adults with disabilities at all levels of the education system. http://www.hrw.org/news/2015/09/03/making-russias-back-school-more-inclusive

  • A woman draws a network on a global map.

    August 2015

    WEI is launching a survey to help us create a first-ever map and report of the field of advocates for the rights of women and girls with disabilities globally. This project will provide an opportunity for collaboration and joint action among human rights advocates, both within and outside the disability rights and women's rights movements. WEI's Survey and Mapping project will provide a sense of the scope and depth of the growing global field of disabled women's rights organizations and advocates, and also serve as an empowering organizing tool to share strategies. This first-ever global report will show where advocates are located, where the gaps are, and where there are opportunities for collaboration to achieve greater collective impact to push for more systemic and inclusive human rights policies.

    Read more

  • July 26, 2015 WEI's submission to the UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities draft General Comment on Article 6 on women, raising the myriad human rights issues raised by the multiple and intersecting forms of discrimination that women with disabilities encounter, focusing on gender-based violence as a pernicious manifestation of such discrimination, noting that women with disabilities experience gender-based violence at a magnitude greater than women without disabilities, and women with disabilities face numerous barriers to ending the cycle of violence and accessing justice, WEI clarifies States' due diligence obligations with respect to gender-based violence committed against women with disabilities by both state and private actors and provides an overview of barriers that women with disabilities face in accessing justice and identifies States' obligations to respond to such violence, and then WEI concludes with recommendations for strengthening the language of the draft General Comment to provide greater clarity on these obligations.

    Read WEI's submission in MS Word
    Read WEI's submission in PDF
    Read the CRPD Committee's Draft General Comment
  • July 16, 2015. On July 16, 2015, the International Human Rights Funders Group and the Foundation Center released the latest data on the state of global human rights grantmaking. Regretably, the Report found the amount of funding focused on disability issues went down as a percentage of the total, from 4% in 2014 of 2011 foundation grant dollars data to 3% or in the new 2015 report of 2012 data totaling $1.8 Billion from 744 foundations worldwide. Although the amount for disability rights went up from $40 million to $53.8 million in the new report, the share for disability issues went down from 4% to only a devastating and abysmal low of a mere 3%. Find the report here: http://humanrights.foundationcenter.org/key-findings/

    To accompany the release of this data, Diana Samarasan was asked to write a blog on funding for disability issues. She concludes her blog by saying: "...I call on human rights grantmakers to consider an inclusive approach that recognizes all. It is no longer enough to recognize that there's a gap; it is time to start doing something about it."

    Find the blog here: http://pndblog.typepad.com/pndblog/2015/07/being-counted-funding-for-people-with-disabilities.html
  • July 4, 2015 Women Enabled International made this submission to inform the drafting of a general comment on the right to life (article 6) under the UN Convention on Civil and Political Rights by the U.N. Human Rights Committee. This submission urges the Committee to take into account the specific risks to the right to life of women and girls, and particularly women and girls with disabilities, as a result of pregnancy and childbirth. In particular, the submission argues that access to a full range of sexual and reproductive health care is essential to protecting women's right to life and that the right to life includes an implicit right to live with dignity.The submission also urges the Committee to uphold its existing jurisprudence and ensure consistency with prevailing international human rights standards by making clear that the right to life accrues at birth and not prenatally. Read WEI's submission here:

    Women Enabled International ICCPR Article 6 Submission on Right to Life and Women (PDF).

    Women Enabled International ICCPR Article 6 Submission on Right to Life and Women (Word docx).

  • The UN Human Rights Committee is preparing a General Comment on the "Right to life" (article 6 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR)). They invited written contributions and will hold a Half-day General Discussion on 14 July 2015.

    Invitation for written contributions on the "Right to Life" article 6 of the ICCPR web page

    Invitation for written contributions on the "Right to Life" article 6 of the ICCPR (PDF)

    Invitation for written contributions on the "Right to Life" article 6 of the ICCPR (Word docx)

    The Committee has adopted a note on the General Comment outlining its likely scope:

    Read the CCPR Article 6 Right to Life Concept Paper (PDF)

    Read the CCPR Article 6 Right to Life Concept Paper (Word doc)

  • May 4, 2015 Read Women Enabled International's Submission to the CESCR Committee for its general discussion on just and favourable conditions of work: Caregiving and Women with Disabilities (Get the PDF) (Get the Word docx file
  • April 28, 2015. Stephanie Ortoleva presents at the University of Scranton, Pennsylvania on April 30th, 2015. Her talk is entitled: "International Human Rights and Women with Disabilities: Forgotten Sisters." Download the flyer here.
  • 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.

    Applause…

  • 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 8, 2015 As we celebrate International Women’s Day on March 8, we honor our sisters whom we’ve highlighted in our #wwdShero social media campaign. Each week for the past several weeks, we have featured one leading woman with a disability who has made advances – in her community and in the world – for women and girls with disabilities. Read more.
  • 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.
      
  • Participate in the March for Gender Equality and Women's Rights in New York City on International Women's Day, March 8, 2015.

    intl day of action womens health logoThe 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)

 

  • February 8, 2015   Unspinning the Spin: The Women's Media Guide to Fair and Accurate Language By Rosalie Maggio
  • Unspinning the Spin Book Published by The Women's Media Group, January 2015 Summary: The Women's Media Center—founded by Jane Fonda, Gloria Steinem, and Robin Morgan—presents its first comprehensive guide to using accurate, inclusive, creative, and clear language. At a time when language is too often used to "spin" instead of communicate, Unspinning the Spin: The Women's Media Center Guide to Fair and Accurate Language was created to help everyone understand and be understood. Unspinning the Spin offers the convenience of a dictionary, the authority of a usage guide, the helpfulness of a thesaurus, and the wit and wisdom of an entertaining and authoritative teacher of the subject. It's invaluable for journalists, bloggers, students, teachers, government officials, and communications professionals, and it will be compelling for any reader who loves the English language.

     

  • January 2015 As we welcome in 2015, a New year of activism for women’s rights and the rights of women and girls with disabilities, we must not forget our own needs as passionate activists. I take the below from an e-mail I received a few years ago, sources below.

    Everyone has the right to stand up, to speak out and to defend human rights, women’s rights and disability rights and the intersections among all of these. Everyone has the right to defend these rights safely, without fear of retribution, such as physical violence, slander or attacks on their families. Equally, everyone has the right to defend these rights and enjoy a full life, without sacrificing livelihoods, health or happiness.

    Self-Care for Activists

    young woman with back to camera, arms raised to blue skyWhen I think about what self care means, I realize that I first need to begin with what activism means to me. I love human rights activism. It is my passion and my path. It makes me happy. When I make a change, even a small one, I feel joy. I feel it when my friends succeed – that shared sense of success. And renewed hope that it is worth it.

    When I think I’ve failed, or struggle with that grinding sense of not being able to do enough, I am devastated. I feel like I’ve been climbing a mountain, and just can’t go a step further.

    Self-care, wellness, sustainability – to me, it is all about finding a way to have balance. To keep doing this work with love, passion and fun -- and to be able to take the hard times in my stride, to have perspective and to understand that what we do is enough. That I am enough.

    It means I have enough inside me to take care of – and love – my own body, heart and soul. To have enough to hold my children with pleasure and without distraction. To be present with them. To have enough to laugh and play with my lover. To be with my friends and family. Without fear, or future regret. It also means being able to afford doing the work, without sacrificing all the other, equally important parts of my life. That I am not trading in my children’s education or my chance for a peaceful retirement, for the intensity of now. We don’t like to talk about that part of it, and I know its uncomfortable, but activism doesn’t pay the rent.

    How we manage our resources as individuals and organizations is integral to how we take care of ourselves as activists Self care is a human right, and it is a shared right – one we can provide for others who for any reason may be unable to provide or practice it for themselves. And as has already been stated – it is not only in reference to leisure or pleasure or "down time" activities – it is access to the basic fundamentals of life – food, water, shelter, relative safety, a means to support oneself (however self is defined) and family (however family is defined). In many cultures selfhood extends beyond the boundaries of the individual, and includes family, ancestors, the natural world, the cosmos. Nurturing, protecting and maintaining our place in this larger order is self-care.

    For many activists in the south, access to resources is a fundamental issue to any approach to self-care. I also firmly believe that self-care needs to be understood within a framework of rights... and responsibilities. We have a right to do this work and be safe, well and fulfilled. We have shared responsibilities as individuals, and as organizations – to take care of ourselves, our colleagues, organizations and movements.

    And I believe, with all my heart, that it is possible.

    What is self care?

    Self care refers to those things an individual does for herself to reduce stress and burnout in the course of human rights activism work. It Implies our energy levels are rejuvenated so that we continue with the human rights work uninterrupted.

    Caring for YOU - your most valuable resource

    New Tactics promotes a methodology that is based on understanding three key areas of knowledge for sound development of strategy and tactics (key to moving any issue forward) taken from Sun Tzu over 2,000 years ago: Know Your Self; Know Your Adversary or Opponent; and Know the Terrain. It follows that an essential part of "Know Your Self" for effective activism is understanding how to care for the most valuable resources in doing human rights work - each person. And remembering that includes ME - all of me - body, mind, and spirit.

    I am always struck by the airline message each time I fly: “In the event that oxygen masks may be needed, place the mask over your own face before assisting others.” It is a powerful reminder that I can't help anyone else if I do not make sure that I have taken care of my own need to breathe. The air I breathe is basic to sustaining my very life. Taking time to ask myself, "what stops me from taking in the air I need?"

    A formula that we have found helpful comes from "The ABCs of self-care are Awareness, Balance and Connection" (Saakvitne & Pearlman, 1996 - see the reference below). The ABCs are as follows:

    Awareness: You must first be able to identify the signs and symptoms of unhealthy stress and the effects of trauma (whether experienced first- or second-hand). This requires awareness.

    Balance: Seek balance among a number of different types of activities, including work, personal and family life, rest and leisure. 

    Connection: Build connections and supportive relationships with your coworkers, friends, family and community. All the work you do to create a better society will have little meaning if you don’t experience positive and healthy connections along the way to this better place. 

    Thank you for all you do on behalf of women and girls with disabilities. However, for 2015 I urge all of you and I urge myself to take the advice provided here to heart. Please join me! 

    Stephanie Ortoleva
    President, Women Enabled

    Sources:

    In the tiger's mouth: an empowerment guide for social action. Katrina Shields, 1991, Millennium Books, Newtown, N.S.W ISBN: 0855748923 (pbk.) This book guides you through the big issues that show up in activism: how to avoid burn-out, network, create stable groups, as well as how to approach listeners with bad news that they may not want to hear. The guide includes exercises that encourage discovery and growth, both for individuals and groups.

    Transforming the Pain: A Workbook on Vicarious Traumatization. Karen W. Saakvitne, Laurie Ann Pearlman, and the staff of the Traumatic Stress Institute. Published by W. W. Norton & Co., Inc.: New York, 1996. A practical, how-to guide on secondary traumatization designed for all levels of professionals, paraprofessionals, and volunteers who work with traumatized persons. Contains exercises for individuals and groups that come from the authors' experience giving workshops on this topic.

    The New Tactics in Human Rights: A Resource for Practitioners. The New Tactics in Human Rights Project, available at www.newtactics.org/sites/default/files/resources/entire-book-EN.pdf This book has a brief section on "Self-Care: Caring for your most valuable resource". You will find some questions that can be used to open discussion in pairs, in small groups or within your organization to take time to discuss the ways in which you are coping — individually and collectively — with the stress of doing human rights work.

     


2014

  • 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

  • August 1, 2014 Women Enabled International, Inc. seeks an undergraduate or graduate student for an unpaid internship during both the fall and spring semesters. We are looking for a dedicated, enthusiastic student who can commit to working a minimum of 15-20 hours per week throughout the 2014-15 school year. Although Women Enabled International, Inc. is headquartered in Washington, DC, a mature and committed intern can work remotely and communicate with the organization online via Skype, email and phone. This is a unique opportunity to work in an innovative, rapidly growing nonprofit organization, gain and improve skills, and gain experience working in collaboration with others. Read complete position description here.
  • May 28, 2014 Beijing + 20 review must include women and girls with disabilities! Read Women Enabled's analysis of the Beijing Declaration's coverage of women and girls with disabilities. We call on governments and UN Women to include women and girls with disabilities in this critical review at CSW in 2015.

    Beijing+20 Review The Situation of Women and Girls with Disabilities (PDF)
    Beijing+20 Review The Situation of Women and Girls with Disabilities (Word docx file)

    For information on CSW59 2015 preparations, see www.unwomen.org/en/csw/csw59-2015/preparations
  • May 28 is International Day of Action for Women's Health. On the Re-Launch of May 28 International Day of Action for Women’s Health, Women’s Rights Defenders Worldwide Call for the Inclusion of Women’s Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights in the Post-2015 Development Agenda.

    intl day of action womens health logoThis May 2014, in commemoration of 30 years of struggle and activism reflected in the victories of the women’s rights movement in the International Conference on Population and Development (Cairo, 1994) and in the IV World Conference on Women (Beijing, 1995), women’s rights defenders and activists worldwide are re-launching May 28, the International Day of Action for Women’s Health, by calling on governments to ensure a holistic, inclusive, and human rights-based approach to women and girls’ health, which includes sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) in the Post-2015 Development Agenda. Visit www.may28.org for more information.

    May 28th, International Day of Action for Women’s Health is being coordinated by the Women’s Global Network for Reproductive Rights (WGNRR) and partners.
  • May 20, 2014 Women's Refugee Commission publishes Report. Drawing on consultations with over 700 persons in eight countries, the report Disability Inclusion: Translating Policy into Practice in Humanitarian Action documents positive practices and ongoing challenges to promoting disability inclusion in urban settings and refugee camps. Its tailored lessons and recommendations will help the United Nations, nongovernmental organizations and governments engage persons with disabilities at all levels of humanitarian work. The report and its executive summary are available in English, French, Arabic and Word formats. See http://womensrefugeecommission.org/hidden-docs/reports/disabilities/984-disabilityinclusion-translating-policy-into-practice-in-humanitarian-action/file
  • April 15, 2014 Human Rights Committee Ignores Violence Against Women with Disabilities in U.S. ICCPR Concluding Observations Ignoring our advocacy, the UN Human Rights Committee in its Concluding Observations on its review of the United States under the International Covenant on Civil and Political rights (ICCPR) ignored violence against women and girls with disabilities. On March 27, the Human Rights Committee's Concluding Observations highlighted violence against women as a serious concern and stated:
  • "The Committee is concerned that domestic violence continues to be prevalent in the State party, and that ethnic minorities, immigrants and American Indian and Alaska Native women are at a particular risk. The Committee is also concerned that victims face obstacles to obtaining remedies, and that law enforcement authorities are not legally required to act with due diligence to protect victims of domestic violence, and often inadequately respond to such cases (arts. 3, 7, 9, and 26) The State party should, through the full and effective implementation of the Violence against Women Act and the Family Violence Prevention and Services Act, strengthen measures to prevent and combat domestic violence, as well as to ensure that law enforcement personnel appropriately respond to acts of domestic violence. The State party should ensure that cases of domestic violence are effectively investigated and that perpetrators are prosecuted and sanctioned. The State party should ensure remedies for all victims of domestic violence, and take steps to improve the provision of emergency shelter, housing, child care, rehabilitative services and legal representation for women victims of domestic violence. The State party should also take measures to assist tribal authorities in their efforts to address domestic violence against Native American women."

  • Despite the fact that the U.S. Government's own statistics highlight the fact that women and girls with disabilities are three times more likely than other women to experience such violence and despite the fact that the U.S. Government cut its inadequate funding for programs to address violence against women with disabilities under the Violence Against Women Act and despite the fact that most domestic violence programs and support services are inaccessible to women with disabilities, the Human Rights Committee did not include us in their list of groups disproportionately affected by violence. These facts about violence against women with disabilities were highlighted in a shadow report on the U.S. in which Women enabled participated. In that report, we stated:
  • "Additionally, it is critical for the United States to address how to end violence against women with disabilities because they are an increasing population and constitute a significant portion of the United States' populace. Women with disabilities are at a higher risk of being victims of violence. According to DOJ statistics for 2011, the rate of violence against women with disabilities was three times the rate of violence against women without disabilities: 53 in 1,000 for women with disabilities , compared to 17 in 1,000 for females without disabilities. Despite these shocking statistics, funding for disability-specific programs authorized under VAWA was reduced from $10 million to $9 million."

  • April 9, 2014 DAWN-RAFH Canada working to increase access to justice for women with disabilities and deaf women who are victims of crime In recognition of National Victims of Crime Awareness Week April 6-12, the DisAbled Women's Network of Canada / Réseau d'action des femmes handicapées (DAWN-RAFH Canada) is launching a campaign aimed at informing women with disabilities and Deaf women about their right to report abuse and to have their abusers tried in court. Entitled "We Can Tell and We Will" the campaign includes a Public Service Announcement (PSA) which depicts two women with intellectual disabilities and one with a communication difference describing abuse and stating that abuse is unacceptable. The PSA encourages women with disabilities to report abuse and informs them that there are advocates who can support them to do so. The campaign is designed to bring attention to the precedent-setting decision by the Supreme Court of Canada, a court case referred to as the D.A.I. case. It involved a woman with an intellectual disability who reported that her step-father had sexually assaulted her. The provincial court disallowed her testimony on the grounds that she was not competent to testify because she could not demonstrate that she understood the meaning of an "oath" or a "promise" in order to tell the truth. As a result, the accused was acquitted.

    Read the press release in English here
    Lire la suite du communiqué ici français
  • March 24, 2014 "The New Boys: Women with Disabilities in the Legal Profession" On April 9, 2014, Carrie Basas, Vice President of Women Enabled, Inc., will be a panelist at the American Bar Association's 4th National Conference on Employment and Education Law Impacting Persons with Disabilities. In her role, she will present on her empirical studies of women attorneys with disabilities and the stigma that they face in the practice of law. More information about the conference can be found on the ABA website and the paper is
    available on our publications page.
  • March 19, 2014 Organizations in several countries reject decision of the Colombian Constitutional Court allowing for sterilization of minors with disabilities without their consent. "Sterilization does not protect anybody from sexual violence and in fact it is a risk factor. With this decision the Court disregarded its obligations under the Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities, ratified by Colombia. The Convention requires that States recognize people with disabilities' full legal capacity to make their own decisions and that they provide the necessary supports to do so," said Andrea Parra, Director of the Action Program for Equality and Social Inclusion (PAIIS) of the Universidad de los Andes in Colombia. Stephanie Ortoleva, from international NGO Women Enabled, Inc. states: "Forced non-consensual sterilization of women and girls with disabilities cannot be tolerated as it not only violates our core human rights, but also our physical and mental health. Empowering others to make such decisions for women and girls with disabilities is an unacceptable form of violence and control." The decision not only disregards the UN Disability Convention, it also ignores the recommendations made to Colombia by the Committee to Eliminate all Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), which specifically told Colombia to amend its regulatory framework to guarantee that sterilization is conducted with the free and informed consent of women with disabilities.
    Read the CEDAW Committee's Recommendations to Colombia, October 2013, par. 30(e).
    Read the full press release in English (PDF) (Word .docx file)
    Read the full press release in Spanish (PDF) (Word .docx file)
    Read the Columbia's Court's decision: Constitutional Court of Colombia – Press Release No. 08 – March 11, 2014.
  • March 18, 2014 Check out this report on what the United States federal agencies are reporting that they are doing for women and girls as of March 2014. "When Women Succeed, America Succeeds" from White House Council on Women and Girls. So does this report mention women and girls with disabilities? Let us know and we'll report it. Download the Recent Agency Accomplishments Report.
  • March 17, 2014 On the occasion of the third anniversary of the Syrian Civil War, the International Rescue Committee shares a brief highlighting how the crisis is impacting women and girls. Read the IRC's blog: The Syrian Crisis: 3 Years in. Also watch a short video on IRC's programming for women and girls in Jordan. In June 2014, the IRC will release a full report that explores in depth, the needs of women and girls in the region, with recommendations for policymakers and the humanitarian community.
  • March 16, 2014 CREA's Sexuality, Gender, and Rights Institute: Exploring Theory and Practice Jun 21-29, 2014 
    in Istanbul, Turkey. CREA's Sexuality, Gender, and Rights Institute is an annual residential course which focuses on a conceptual study of sexuality and its application to program interventions. The Institute examines the links between sexuality, rights, gender, and health, and their interface with socio-cultural and legal issues. Participants critically analyse policy, research, and programme interventions using a rights-based approach. Applications are due on or before 15 April 2014. Visit CREA's website for more information: www.creaworld.org
  • March 15, 2014  CSW 58 Side Event March 19, 2014: New Approaches to Poverty Eradication Among Women with Disabilities
    Co-sponsored by UN Women, UN DESA and the Mission of Germany and moderated by Women Enabled President Stephanie Ortoleva. The event will be held at the UN Headquarters North Lawn Building Conference Room 7. Event flyer click here - Please share with colleagues and we hope to see you there! Updated 5/12/2014 with event documents. More information regarding this side event is available on our CSW58 page.
  • March 14, 2014   CSW58 Parallel Event:
    Progress? Participation of Women and Girls with Disabilities in Education and Employment in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) Fields    
    This dynamic panel of experts and practitioners assessed progress in the inclusion of women and girls with disabilities in education and employment in the science, technology, engineering & math fields, as part of the CSW 58’s Review Theme.  The Final Conclusions from CSW 55 made specific reference to the urgent need to include women and girls with disabilities in these critical fields.  Women with disabilities continue to have the lowest education and employment rates among all women & this panel explores the current situation and successful strategies for progress.  

    Updated 5/12/2014 with post-event documents and photos. More information regarding this side event is available on our CSW58 page.


  • March 5, 2014 The DisAbled Women's Network of Canada (DAWN-RAFH Canada) has launched a new resource aimed at understanding and addressing violence against women with disAbilities and Deaf women. roduced in collaboration with The Learning Centre at University of Western Ontario's Centre for Research and Education on Violence Against Women and Children, this Resource and Educational Tool highlights the context of violence experienced by women with disabilities and provides statistics and important resources. Based on both research and the lived experiences of women with disAbilities and Deaf women, this publication sheds light on the range of ways in which women with disAbilities experience violence – physical, sexual, psychological, and financial at the individual level, as well as naming ableism and audism as forms of violence against women with disAbilities and Deaf women. It has been translated into French, ASL, and LSQ (Langue des signes québécoise) and can be found at DAWN-RAFH Canada's website or you can visit the Learning Network website

  • February 17, 2014 The India Network of Women with Disabilities and other colleagues collaborated for an exciting event for the One Billion Rising campaign in Delhi, India, highlighting violence against women and girls with disabilities through the life cycle.

2 men on a 3-wheeled motorbike on a crowded wet street in India hold up a sign that reads Inlcusion & Equality as a woman who is also holding a sign looks on.   Several men and women in India, some in wheelchairs, smile and hold signs that read Rise for Justice, Accessibility and Equality, and I Stand for Inclusion not Exclusion, among others.   Several men and women, some in wheelchairs, in India cheer and hold a large banner that reads Equality & Inclusion Women with Disabilities India Network

  • February 13, 2014 This "V-Day," stand in support of the billion women around the world who are survivors of violence and rape. As you follow the One Billion Rising for Justice Campaign in the news tomorrow, we'd like to share a perspective from Hesperian’s  Health Handbook for Women with Disabilities.

    "Disabled women and girls are even more likely to be abused, hurt, or sexually assaulted than non-disabled women. A woman's disability never makes violence, abuse, or neglect OK. Women with disabilities deserve to live in safety, with people who care about them and treat them well." (p. 287)

    Access to accurate information about violence and how to seek support are critically important for women with disabilities experiencing violence from a partner, family member, caretaker, or colleague. A Health Handbook for Women with Disabilities contains clear information about different kinds of abuse, preventing abuse, support for women seeking to leave a violent relationship, rape, abuse in institutions, and ideas to help women be safer from violence. Learn how you can take part in the world-wide movement of men and women working to end gender-based violence. Available in our free HealthWiki in English and just released in Spanish, this title is screen-reader accessible in the HealthWiki for people with visual impairments.

  • February 13, 2014 Non-partner sexual violence against women common worldwide Lancet study finds. One in 14 women around the world aged 15 or older has been sexually assaulted by someone other than an intimate partner, according to a new study by an international team of researchers. But even that disturbing number is probably a low estimate, the study points out, because sexual violence often goes unreported as a result of women’s fear of being blamed and a lack of support from families and communities.  “Sexual violence against women is common worldwide, with endemic levels seen in some areas,” write the study’s authors.  “Our findings,” they add, “indicate a pressing health and human rights concern.”

    Read the full study here: Worldwide prevalence of non-partner sexual violence: a systematic review : The Lancet

    Read a report on the study on the Minnpost website.

  • February 7, 2014 Announcement: "Promoting Empowerment through Journalism:  WOMEN’S VOICE in the Public Sphere" Side Event March 12, 2014. The role of news reporting has been recognized as an essential element in women’s social advancement for more than two centuries. Reporting holds the potential to make women’s conditions known and their voices heard, to make women’s contributions to their communities visible and to articulate their views on urgent issues of the day. At a side event entitled Promoting Empowerment through Journalism:  WOMEN’S VOICE in the Public Sphere at the UN Commission on the Status of Women on Wednesday, March 12, 2014, at 2:30 pm. Stephanie Ortoleva, Women Enabled, Inc. President, will discuss media discussions of issues of concern to women with disabilities and our role in the media and news reporting. More information is available on our calendar. Download a flyer to distribute, available as PDF or Word Doc: Journalism Side Panel PDF | Journalism Side Panel Word Doc

  • January 31, 2014 Pink pistols to see off rapists? Don't make me laugh. "It's true. India presents its women with a gun to defend themselves. A pretty pink handgun, no less. It will be named 'Nirbheek' – which means 'fearless' in Hindi – and is intended as a tribute to the 23-year-old student whose brutal attack in India's capital in 2012 sparked outrage. But with pink pistols? That's so ludicrous, it makes most Indian women want to puke. Ironically, as I write, today is the anniversary of Gandhi's death, the world's biggest proponent of non-violence." Mari Marcel Thekaekara, The New Internationalist, Oxford, UK.
    Read more about pink pistols.

  • January 17, 2014 In an article entitled “Three-pronged Fight for Disability Rights,” on Friday, January 17, 2014, India Telegraph reporter Mohua Das interviewed Women Enabled President Stephanie Ortoleva and her India colleagues on their collaborative  project on addressing violence  against women and girls with disabilities.  Das noted that “… a Skype session last summer with two activists half the world away found Stephanie bonding over a common goal:  empowering women with disabilities.”  Stephanie Ortoleva from Women Enabled, Inc. in the United States, and Jeeja Gosh from the Indian Institute for Cerebral Palsy and Anamitra Mukherjee from Swayam(it works to prevent violence against women) are working together on a project to bring together women’s rights organizations and disability rights organizations so that women’s rights organizations can more effectively  work with women and girls with disabilities who are surviving violence and so that disability rights organizations can better understand the threats of gender-based violence facing women and girls with disabilities.  The collaborators are developing training modules for various stakeholders which will be used throughout India and hopefully beyond as this innovative collaborative effort moves forward.  Stephanie, Jeeja and Anamitra outlined various myths about women and girls with disabilities and then rebutted each one. Follow this link to read the story online.

  • REGISTER NOW! CSW 58 parallel event: Progress? Participation of Women & Girls with Disabilities in Education & Employment in Science, Technology, Engineering & Math (STEM) Fields

    Friday, 14th March 2014 @ 12:30 pm
    The Church Center UN Boss Room
    777 UN Plaza, 8th Floor, New York NY 10017

    This dynamic panel of experts & practitioners will assess progress in the inclusion of women & girls with disabilities in education and employment in the science, technology, engineering & math fields, as part of the CSW 58's Review Theme. The Final Conclusions from CSW 55 made specific reference to the urgent need to include women & girls with disabilities in these critical fields. Women with disabilities continue to have the lowest education & employment rates among all women & this panel explores the current situation & successful strategies for progress.

    Check back for updates on the panel speakers and more!

2013

 

  • Dec 16, 2013   A year after the Delhi gang rape, what has changed for women and girls with disabilities?

    On December 16, 2012, a brutal crime sent shock waves across India and throughout the world. The issue of violence against women was thrown into the spotlight.  But the violence against women with disabilities only received minimal attention during this debate.

    The Indian Government appointed the Justice Verma Committee to consider what amendments to Indian law were necessary.  Women Enabled, Inc. submitted Recommendations to this Committee, encouraging that specific provisions must address violence against women with disabilities.  India later enacted the Criminal Law (Amendment) Act of 2013 to address the long history of violence following this brutal rape.

    Regrettably, this new law fell short of the needed changes, since it fails to incorporate several significant concerns regarding women with disabilities:

    –    Provision of adequate and appropriate counseling facilities for women with disabilities
    –    Rehabilitation for women with disabilities after sexual and gender-based violence
    –    Supervision and monitoring of institutions in which women and girls with disabilities live to ensure that complaints of violence are addressed
    –    Provision of training for law enforcement officials and judges regarding violence against women and girls with disabilities
    –    Data collection (desegrated by both disability and gender) and analysis of crimes of sexual and gender-based violence against women with disabilities

    Safety of women and girls with disabilities is central to our economic empowerment and thus essential for India's development.

    Women Enabled, Inc. will travel to India in January 2014 to provide, in collaboration with our partners in India, training to women’s rights organizations and disability rights organizations regarding violence against women with disabilities and how these organizations can more effectively collaborate to address this pervasive violence.

    Your donation of $50, $75 or $100 can help us provide these training sessions to an even greater number in 2014.  Your contribution is greatly appreciated.  Thanks for your ongoing support of women and girls with disabilities. Women Enabled, Inc. is a not-for-profit organization with U.S. IRS 501(c)(3) status.

  • Dec 6, 2013 Read UN WOMEN'S HANDBOOK FOR NATIONAL ACTION PLANS ON VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN 2012 This Handbook provides guidance on what should be included in a Government's National Action Plan on Violence Against Women.  Note that there are some references to women with disabilities in this document!
  • Dec 6, 2013  A Deeper Silence: The Unheard Experiences of Women with Disabilities - Sexual and Reproductive Health and Violence against Women in Kiribati, Solomon Islands and Tonga, March 2013. Read the Report (PDF)  
  • Dec 6, 2013 UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, Follow-up activities aim at ensuring that recommendations and decisions by human rights mechanisms and bodies are implemented so as to improve respect, protection and fulfillment of all human rights for all. UN human rights mechanisms and bodies seek to improve the realization of human rights in all countries of the world. Resolutions adopted by the Human Rights Council, the findings of Commissions of Inquiry, recommendations of treaty bodies, special procedures and the universal periodic review, and decisions of treaty bodies on individual cases all aim at closing protection gaps and indicate ways for States and other stakeholders to advance towards the full realization of human rights. All these findings, recommendations and decisions aim at producing a change for the better in the lives of rights-holders. The primary obligation to realize such change lies with States, which bear the duty to respect, protect and fulfill human rights. However, all parts of society, from individuals to the private sector, the international community and CSAs have a role to play in the realization of human rights. Civil society, in particular, can play a crucial role in following up on human rights recommendations. Read the Guide (PDF)
  • Dec 6, 2013 CEDAW Committee during its review of Columbia issued a recommendation to the government on forced sterilization of women and girls with disabilities under the CEDAW's article on Health. Read the CEDAW Committee Report and the Shadow Report.
  • Dec 3, 2013 As we celebrate International Day of Persons with Disabilities today, let us continue to work for a world in which women and girls with disabilities are free from violence, are respected, are ensured of our civil and political rights, are enjoying our economic, social and cultural rights, and are free to enjoy all of our human rights as women and as persons with disabilities. The theme for 2013 is “Break Barriers, Open Doors: for an inclusive society and development for all” and we call on everyone to open doors, break down barriers and ensure that women and girls with disabilities are part of the global development agenda, both as designers of the programs and participants in them!
  • Dec 3, 2013 Nothing to Celebrate: North Koreans with Disabilities. On the International Day of Persons with Disabilities, a look at the grim prospects for disabled North Koreans by Janet E. Lord.
  • November 25, 2013 November 25 is the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, and the start of the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence. The 16 Days of Activism end on International Human Rights Day, December 10. Women Enabled joins in this campaign, reminding us that women with disabilities are women, too and, like all women, women with disabilities experience violence!  Read our Report:  Forgotten Sisters – A Report on Violence Against Women With Disabilities. The World Health Organization highlights 16 key facts on intimate partner and sexual violence against women and girls.
  • November 19, 2013 Bioethicist Adrienne Asch died Tuesday, November 19 from an agressive form of cancer. Read the New York Times obituary.
  • October 30, 2013 AbleRoad Announces Official Launch of Website and App to Help People with Disabilities to Research and Review Businesses and Venues for Accessibility. Visit AbleRoad.com for more information.

  • October 12, 2013 The United Nations has designated October 11 as International Day of the Girl, with a focus on education. But as I read many well-written and strong feminist posts on this issue, the concerns of millions of girls with disabilities are missing from the dialog. Who are the missing girls? The deaf girl in India who attends a school for deaf children and who was raped by her teachers. The blind girl in the United States who wants to be a scientist, but is not permitted to take the classes and who is told a blind person can't be a scientist, especially not a blind girl. The girl with a disability in Pakistan whose parents keep her at home and will not even let her attend school because they are ashamed. These are only a few of the untold stories. But the statistics about education of girls with disabilities tells us even more starkly.

  • October 4, 2013 The Draft General Comments on Article 12 Legal Capacity and the Draft General Comments on Article 9 on Accessibility have been released by the Committee of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. These drafts are available at:  http://www.ohchr.org/EN/HRBodies/CRPD/Pages/DGCArticles12And9.aspx
  • Sign up now! CREA’s 3rd Disability, Sexuality, & Rights Online Institute, 4 Nov – 15 Dec 2013. Completely online, 6 weeks, 6-10 hours per week, Applications are due 30 Sept. www.creaworld.org, email form to vmarwah@creaworld.org.
  • September 24, 2013 Legal Momentum, the Advocates for Human Rights, the Human Rights Clinic of the University of Miami School of Law, and Women Enabled, Inc. ("U.S. Women's Rights Organizations") submitted a shadow report on violence against women in the United States to the United Nations Human Rights Committee, and called for the Committee to recommend significant improvements to U.S. law and policy.

    Stephanie Ortoleva, President, Women Enabled, Inc. noted the shadow report's conclusions with respect to violence against women with disabilities and stated: "Additionally, it is critical for the United States to address how to end violence against women with disabilities because they are an increasing population and Women with disabilities are at a significantly higher risk of being victims of violence, three times the rate of violence against women without disabilities, according to DOJ statistics. Shockingly, funding for disability-specific programs authorized under VAWA was reduced by 10% in 2013."

    Women Enabled worked extensively with the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Violence Against Women, Hon. Rashida Manjoo, in her 2010-2011 mission to the United States to document the state of anti-domestic violence programs and also worked with her in 2012 to document gender-based and sexual violence against women with disabilities. Women Enabled, Inc. co-authored a ground-breaking report on violence against women with disabilities: Forgotten Sisters – A Report on Violence Against Women with Disabilities: An Overview of its Nature, Scope, Causes and Consequences (Aug. 21, 2012).

    - Read the ICCPR Women's Group Shadow Report on the U.S., 2013:  PDF     DOC

    - Read the Press Release: Women's Rights Groups Call on U.S. to Improve Response to Domestic Violence and Gun Violence  PDF DOC
  • August 2013 Here's a new Facebook page to check out! Letters to Thrive
  • July 30, 2013 Read Eleanor Lisney's account of Sisters of Frida's participation at the 55th CEDAW session in Geneva. A main consensus among all the UK NGOs who went to the session was how access to justice was being eroded by the austerity measures put into effect by the present UK coalition government. As Sisters of Frida members, we self funded ourselves when we went to Geneva to join the other NGOs. We saw it important that disabled women were represented with other women's organisations. CEDAW is part of the whole 'justice' dimension – our rights were not granted us as a result of the benign good nature of our government but because of the international campaigns for human rights set about into conventions by the United Nations and the European Union. These are some of the human rights instruments that we can use – even if we have to exhaust the domestic legal systems first. This is where we can hold our own government to account. There were many cuts to disabled people's services and we did not have the disaggregated data) that we needed to prioritise and formulate as questions and recommendations to the CEDAW committee. We could have made a better case for disabled women if we had more experience in the procedures but then the essential fact was that we were there as disabled women and our presence was felt and many of the sister NGOs included disabled women in their presentations.

    Read more at: http://sisofrida.org/2013/07/29/post-cedaw-55th-session-and-disabled-womens-access-to-the-justice (more blogs and info at http://sisofrida.org/cedaw and note the presentations by women with disabilities from Cape Verde and Serbia)
  • July 20, 2013 As a key follow-up to the ICPD Beyond 2014 Conference on Human Rights and Sexual and Reproductive Rights, The Hague Civil Society Call to Action on Human Rights and ICPD Beyond 2014 was developed by conference participants. The petition is available at:  http://sexualrightsinitiative.com/2013/icpd/petition.  Please join with Women Enabled and consider signing the petition in both an individual and an organizational capacity and also disseminate it widely among your networks.  Signatures will be collected till August 31, 2013.  Thereafter, the final petition will be shared with signatories to send to governments.
  • July 16, 2013 Please read and watch the amazing speech by Malala Yousafzai of Pakistan, who was shot by the Taliban for advocating girls’ education during a speech she delivered at the United Nations in New York on July 12, 2013, her 16th birthday. 

    She spoke out strongly for the right of all children—girls and boys-- to get an education and was passionate about advancing women’s rights.  In her speech she called on girls and women to speak up and fight for their rights. 

    She said, “Today I am focusing on women’s rights and girls’ education because they are suffering the most.  There was a time when women activists asked men to stand up for their rights.  This time we will do it by ourselves.  I am not telling men to step away from speaking for women’s rights, but I am focusing on women to be independent and fight for themselves. … So today… we call upon the world leaders that all of these deals must protect women’s and children’s rights.  A deal that goes against the rights of women is unacceptable.”

    Read  Malala's speech transcript at http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2013/jul/12/malala-yousafzai-united-nations-education-speech-text and watch the video at http://webtv.un.org/watch/malala-yousafzai-addresses-united-nations-youth-assembly/2542094251001/#full-text
  • July 12, 2013 The ICPD Beyond 2014 Conference on Human Rights and Sexual and Reproductive Rights took place in The Netherlands from 7 - 10 July 2013.  As part of the UN mandated 20-year review of the 1994 ICPD Programme of Action, the conference brought together over 300 representatives from governments, civil society organizationsand UN agencies, as well as experts and human rights defenders to identify key achievements, barriers and emerging challenges to delivering the goals of ICPD.  Hosted by the Government of The Netherlands in partnership with the United Nations Population Fund and the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, the conference focused on the nexus between human rights, equality, accountability and population and development, with a focus on gender, discrimination, empowerment and sexual and reproductive health and rights.   Conference sessions were structured around themes including: women’s autonomy and reproductive rights, sexual health and well-being and human rights and gender-based discrimination and violence. Read the rest of this article on the Women Enabled Issues page for Health, Including Sexual and Reproductive Health.
  • July 8, 2013 At the ICPD Beyond 2014 Human Rights Conference, Women Enabled President Stephanie Ortoleva posed a question to one of the first panels of the conference, asking panelists to make a statement on the urgent need to include women and girls with disabilities in the discussion. 

    Watch the Conference's archived video, which includes Stephanie’s question from the Conference, at http://humanrights.icpdbeyond2014.org/join-us. Scroll down to the video from Monday 8th July entitled "Addressing inequalities and discrimination." The question and answers are at 51 minutes into the session. Since the website uses frames that are difficult for people using screen readers to navigate, we are also providing the direct link to that video: http://hosting.dutchview.nl/hr20130708b/videoiframe.php
  • July 4, 2013 Carolyn Frohmader, Executive Director, Women With Disabilities Australia (WWDA) and Stephanie Ortoleva, President, Women Enabled, Inc., prepared this significant Briefing Paper entitled “The Sexual and Reproductive Rights of Women and Girls with Disabilities"  in preparation for the ICPD Human Rights Conference on Sexual and Reproductive Health in The Hague July 7-11, 2013.  This Briefing Paper explores these issues from the human rights perspective, providing references to the findings of international human rights bodies and mechanisms, and provides details on specific human rights issues which have a significant impact on the lives of women and girls with disabilities and violate their core human rights. PDF DOC
  • June 23, 2013 Women enabled President Stephanie Ortoleva is invited to be part of the International Human Rights Thematic Conference in the Netherlands on 7-10 July 2013 in the context of the Review of the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD). Read more.
  • April 17, 2013 Read Stephanie Ortoleva's post on the US International Council on Disability blog on her work at CSW57 and violence against women with disabilities. Click here.
  • April 15, 2013 At the Opening Meeting of the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities' 9th Session, Maria Soledad Cisternas Reyes was elected by an overwhelming majority as the new Chair of the Committee. She is the first woman to Chair the Committee. Women Enabled, Inc. stands ready to assist, especially in the Committee's work to advance the rights of women and girls with disabilities! We also thank outgoing Chair Ron McCallum for his years of excellent service.
  • April 14, 2013 We are pleased to announce that on Wednesday, April 17, the public sessions of the CRPD Committee's 9th session will be broadcast live on the web at www.treatybodywebcast.org  From 12 -1pm (Geneva time): First half day of general discussion on women and girls with disabilities. From 3 - 6pm (Geneva time): Second half day of general discussion on women and girls with disabilities. Convert Geneva time to your own time zone at www.timeanddate.com/worldclock/converter.html. International sign interpretation of the public discussions will also be webcast live. The recordings will be archived after the close of the session on the same website.
  • April 10, 2013 We've updated our CSW57 coverage to include audio, video, additional statements and a slide presentation. View now.
  • April 9, 2013 Women Enabled has reviewed the Concluding Observations prepared by the CRPD Committee for the six countries for which the CRPD Committee has issued Concluding Observations to determine the extent to which issues of concern to women and girls with disabilities were addressed. We have determined that more comprehensive coverage of issues of concern to women and girls with disabilities must be included in this process. See the CRPD page for our analysis and recommendations as well as the CRPD Committee's List of Issues posed to each country and the CRPD Committee's Concluding Observations.
  • March 20, 2013 PDF: CSW57 Agreed Conclusions (advance unedited version) have now appeared on the UN women website. The thematic issue for CSW57 was the prevention and elimination of violence against women and
    girls. While at CSW57 I had vigorously advocated for greater inclusion of women and girls with disabilities in the Final Conclusions as well as a very strong statement on gender motivated killings of women and on the impact of harmful traditional practices and on the importance of access to sexual and reproductive health care, but was disappointed in the resulting document on all counts. I plan to fully analyze this document more fully and will post that analysis here. See our CSW57 page for more CSW57 information and news.
  • Read a new article by Stephanie Ortoleva (President, Women Enabled) in The Diplomatic Courier March - April 2013 issue. Read article

    About the article: Every year around International Women's Day, hundreds of women and allies from around the world gather in New York for the UN Commission on the Status of Women (CSW). Unfortunately, not all women are as welcome as others. For many years, women with disabilities who want to engage at CSW—women who want their experiences respected, their contributions valued, and most of all, their rights reflected in the resolutions and Final Conclusions—have struggled with this experience. Despite the implications for millions of women and girls with disabilities and their families, issues concerning them receive only limited coverage, if any, in influential official research and other preparations for CSW. There is scant inclusion in side events, other than those few organized by women with disabilities themselves. CSW can contribute to a more inclusive and effective awareness of discrimination against all women by welcoming women with disabilities to the table. The article discusses the nature, scope, causes and consequences of violence against women and girls with disabilities and outlines the strategies used by women with disabilities to ensure inclusion in the discussions and outcomes of CSW57, where the priority theme is violence against women.
  • Updated March 17, 2013 The UN Commission on the Status of Women (CSW57) was held at the UN Headquarters in New York City from March 4-15, 2013. Please visit our CSW57 page for all related news, event details and commentary.
  • February, 2013 The UN Special Rapporteur on Torture, Juan Méndez, presented his report to the United Nations on 1 February 2013, condemning the segregation and abuse of people with disabilities as violations of the UN Convention Against Torture… The conceptualization of abuses in health-care settings as torture or ill-treatment is a relatively recent phenomenon.”  the Special Rapporteur embraces this ongoing paradigm shift, which increasingly encompasses various forms of abuse in health-care settings within the discourse on torture. Read the Report (PDF)

  • February 2013 Read Women Enabled's submission to the CRPD Committee for its April 2013 General Discussion on Article 6 on women. Women Enabled calls on the CRPD Committee to address access to justice for women and girls with disabilities as it elaborates a general recommendation on Article 6 on women. Click here for Women Enabled's submission. Click here to read the CRPD Committee's Statement on its half day of general discussion.

  • February 2013 Read Stephanie Ortoleva's blog post on the World Justice Project website:
    Women with Disabilities and the Justice System: Rights without Remedies
  • February 2013 Following the horrific gang rape and murder of a woman as she road a bus, as well as numerous violent rapes of women in India, the Indian Government appointed the Justice Verma committee to make recommendations for legal reforms. Following the Report of this Committee, the Government adopted several legislative reforms, but the new law fell short of the needed changes. The National Platform for the Rights of the Disabled condemns the process in which the Indian Government enacted its new sexual offences law incorporating some of the amendments recommended by the Justice Verma Committee, but the law fails to incorporate several significant concerns regarding women with disabilities. Click here to read the press statement of the National Platform for the Rights of the Disabled.
  • February 2013 Read Women Enabled’s submission to the CEDAW Committee for its 18 February 2013 General discussion on Access to Justice for women. Women Enabled calls on the CEDAW Committee to address access to justice for women and girls with disabilities as it elaborates a General recommendation on access to justice for women. Read Women Enabled’s submission, click here.
  • January 2013 The Center for Reproductive Rights, with support from UNFPA, has recently released a new publication: Reproductive Rights: A Tool for Monitoring State Obligations. This important report addresses the reproductive rights of persons with disabilities.  Read the report here: http://reproductiverights.org/en/document/monitoring-tool-human-rights-state-obligations
  • January 2013 Women Enabled strongly urges the Indian Government Commission on legal reform of laws on rape & violence against women to include women with disabilities.   Click here to read our letter.

2012

  • September 2012 Read Stephanie Ortoleva & Hope Lewis' open letter to UN Women & the CSW 57 Chairs regarding the importance of inclusion ofissues of concern to women & girls with disabilities in agenda of UNCommission on the Status of Women 57th Session on violence againstwomen
  • September 2012 Women Enabled organized a meeting of women with disabilities and allied women at the Conference of States Parties of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities at the UN in NYC and the group issued a “Statement of Principles” on September 14, 2012, demanding that our rights are always included at COSP meetings, in our own voices, by our own hands and through our own lived experiences so that others do not speak for us. We also stated that it is essential that girls and younger women and women from the global south have prominent speaking and leadership roles. We also pledge to gather as a collective at future COSP sessions. The Statement was read into the official record of the proceedings on September 14, 2012. Read the full statement here
  • August 2012 Special rapporteur Violence Against Women, Rashida Manjoo, releases new ground-breaking report on violence against women with disabilities. Notes: despite normative legal frameworks on both the human rights of women & of persons with disabilities, impact of combined effects of both gender & disability not gained sufficient attention,& violence remains largely unaddressed& at shockingly high rates, Intersecting & multiple forms of discrimination exacerbates this violence, and a social model of disability must be utilized. Click here to read. 
  • August 2012 Stephanie Ortoleva and Hope Lewis release a new study “Forgotten Sisters - A Report on Violence against Women with Disabilities: AnOverview of Its Nature, Scope, Causes and Consequences” August 2012. Despite the evolution of normative frameworks concerning both the human rights of women and of persons with disabilities, the impact of the combined effects of both gender and disability have not gained sufficient attention with respect to preventing and ending violence against women and girls with disabilities and the violence remains at shockingly high rates. The Report calls on international organizations, especially those focused on women’s rights such as the UN Commission on the Status of Women (which will consider as its priority thematic issue violence against women at its 57th session in March 2013) and UN Women, and the international community, governments and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to join us in the effort to highlight these critical issues and end the violence. 
  • July 2012 Read Women Enabled’s letter to the United States Foreign Relations Committee urging prompt ratification of the United nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. I vigorously urge prompt U.S. Senate ratification of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD). This treaty will advance the rights of all the One Billion persons with disabilities around the world and includes specific provisions to advance the rights of women and girls with disabilities in its Article 6 and throughout the CRPD’s provisions. Such prompt ratification would further advance the spirit of cooperation and collaboration that so well characterized the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act itself. Women and girls with disabilities experience the double bind of discrimination because they are women and because they are persons with disabilities and for many women and girls with disabilities other intersecting identities result in compounded forms of discrimination. two of the most devastating factors that confront women and girls with disabilities are alarming high rates of gender-based and sexual violence as well as inadequate access to health care, including sexual and reproductive health care. Urge the U.S. Senate to ratify this treaty promptly and support the work of women and girls with disabilities around the world to advance our rights and improve our lives.
    Click here to read.
  • June 2012 This June nations and advocates around the world attended the Rio+20 Earth Summit, which sought to define pathways to a safer, more equitable, cleaner, greener and more prosperous world for all. Unlike at previous sessions, some Issues of concern to persons with disabilities were included in the Rio+20 Outcome Document, entitled "The future we want" although much more is needed and these provisions are voluntary. Provisions with respect to several women’s rights issues were, as one activist described it “a recession in human rights” including the absence of provisions on access to sexual and reproductive health. Others reported that civil society did not have an opportunity for meaningful participation. Thus, now, we must take measures to help translate these commitments into specific actions by Governments and all stakeholders in the international community to ensure that persons with disabilities, our voices, rights, needs and concerns are included in sustainable development policies and programme implementation! 
    More information at: http://www.amnesty.org/fr/node/32753 and http://www.un.org/disabilities/default.asp?navid=46&pid=1600 

2011

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