Our Work: Health, Including Sexual and Reproductive Health

  • October 2, 2019  WEI and The Lurie Institute for Disability Policy at Brandeis University’s Heller School Joint Submission to the Human Rights Council’s Universal Periodic Review of the United States.

    Women Enabled International and The Lurie Institute for Disability Policy at Brandeis University’s Heller School for Social Policy and Management collaborated on this submission for the United States' upcoming third Universal Periodic Review (UPR) at the Human Rights Council in Geneva.  This submission addresses some of the violations women, girls, and nonbinary persons with disabilities in the U.S. face, including barriers to accessing needed sexual and reproductive health information and services; forced reproductive health interventions, including forced sterilizations; high rates of gender-based violence and substantial barriers to accessing social supports and services following violence; and violations of their right to parent and found and sustain a family.  As this submission illustrates, women with disabilities in the U.S. disproportionately face violations of these rights, due to discrimination based on their gender and disability and stereotypes about their capability and sexuality.  The submission provides targeted questions and recommendations on these topics for the U.S.’s UPR, which will take place in May 2020.

    WEI Lurie Institute Joint U.S. UPR Submission Oct 2, 2019.pdf

    WEI Lurie Institute Joint U.S. UPR Submission Oct 2, 2019.docx


  • October 1, 2019  WEI and DIWA Joint Submission to the Human Rights Council’s Universal Periodic Review of Malawi.

    Women Enabled International and Disabled Women in Africa (DIWA), in collaboration with 10 organizations in Malawi that work on issues affecting women with disabilities, compiled this submission for Malawi’s upcoming third Universal Periodic Review (UPR) at the Human Rights Council in Geneva.  This submission focuses on access to justice, education, sexual and reproductive health services and employment and on violence against women with disabilities.  As this submission illustrates, women and girls with disabilities in Malawi disproportionately face violations of their rights in these contexts, due to discrimination based on their gender and disability.  The submission provides targeted questions and recommendations on these topics for Malawi’s UPR, which will take place in May 2020.

    DIWA and WEI Malawi UPR Submission FINAL Oct 1, 2019.pdf

    DIWA and WEI Malawi UPR Submission FINAL Oct 1, 2019.docx


  • September 16, 2019  Mexicanas Con Discapacidad and WEI Submit Shadow Letter on Mexico to the Human Rights Committee.

    Mexicanas Con Discapacidad and WEI submitted a shadow letter on the rights of women and girls with disabilities to the Human Rights Committee, to assist the Committee in its upcoming review of Mexico.  This submission focuses on rights violations that disproportionately or uniquely affect women and girls with disabilities in Mexico.  These violations include: discrimination and harmful stereotypes; gender-based violence; sexual and reproductive rights violations, including forced sterilization and forced contraception; and a lack of access to justice and effective remedies to address these violations.  This submission further provides suggested recommendations for the Human Rights Committee to consider making to Mexico during its upcoming review.

    MCD and WEI Submission to the Human Rights Committee on Mexico September 16, 2019.pdf

    MCD and WEI Submission to the Human Rights Committee on Mexico September 16, 2019.docx


  • July 26, 2019 Mexicanas Con Discapacidad and WEI Submit Preliminary Shadow Letter on Mexico to the CRPD Committee List of Issues

    Mexicanas Con Discapacidad and WEI submitted a preliminary shadow letter on the rights of women and girls with disabilities to the CRPD Committee, to assist the Committee in developing a list of important issues it should address with Mexico during its upcoming review.  This submission highlights gaps in Mexico's state report to the CRPD Committee, including concerning gender-based violence, sexual and reproductive rights, legal capacity, political participation, discrimination in education and a lack of data and statistics on women and girls with disabilities. This submission further provides suggested questions that the CRPD Committee should pose to Mexico to gather more information about its responses to these violations.

    Mujeres Discapacidad and WEI Submission to CRPD Committee for Mexico LOI FINAL July 26, 2019.pdf

    Mujeres Discapacidad and WEI Submission to CRPD Committee for Mexico LOI FINAL July 26, 2019.docx

  • May 17, 2019 WEI Submission to the Special Rapporteur on Health: Medical Education and Health Workforce Strengthening

    This submission is intended to inform the Special Rapporteur on the Right of Everyone to the Enjoyment of the Highest Attainable Standard of Physical and Mental Health's forthcoming report on Medical Education and Health Workforce Strengthening to the U.N. General Assembly.  The submission outlines the impact of inadequate health worker training on the sexual and reproductive rights of women and girls with disabilities and briefly summarizes the key international human rights standards on the provision of quality, acceptable, accessible and affordable sexual and reproductive health care to women and girls with disabilities.  The submission also highlights good practices and suggests indicators to assess and monitor progress towards improving health worker education to meet the sexual and reproductive health needs of women and girls with disabilities. It concludes with recommendations for the Special Rapporteur to consider for his forthcoming report.

    WEI SR Health Submission on Medical Education May 17, 2019 Final.pdf

    WEI SR Health Submission on Medical Education May 17, 2019 Final.docx


  • May 17, 2019 Women with Disabilities Submission to the Special Rapporteur on Violence Against Women: Mistreatment and Violence in Reproductive Health Care, including Facility-Based Childbirth

    This submission, intended to inform the Special Rapporteur's forthcoming report to the U.N. General Assembly, outlines the causes, forms, and consequences of violence and mistreatment against women and girls with disabilities in reproductive health care settings, including childbirth settings. Drawing on examples from several countries, the submission highlights that women and girls with disabilities are subjected to forced reproductive health interventions, encounter physical, emotional, and psychological abuse in maternity care, and are more often stripped of their parental rights, due to discrimination, lack of provider training, and the inaccessibility of facilities, equipment, information, and communications. The submission also outlines international human rights standards on respectful reproductive health care for women and girls with disabilities and provides the Special Rapporteur with recommendations for her report. This submission was drafted by Women Enabled International with contributions and endorsements from ten other organizations working to advance the rights of women and girls with disabilities around the world.

    Women with Disabilities Submission to the Special Rapporteur on Violence against Women FINAL May 17, 2019.pdf

    Women with Disabilities Submission to the Special Rapporteur on Violence against Women FINAL May 17, 2019.docx


  • Jan. 28, 2019 WEI, Human Rights Watch, and Disability Rights International Submission to the CEDAW Committee for its Review of Serbia

    This submission focuses on abuses against women with disabilities in long-term residential care institutions in Serbia, including forced administration of contraception and implantation of intrauterine devices (IUDs), forced reproductive cancer screenings, forced and coerced abortions, and violence. Drawing on field research conducted by Human Rights Watch and Disability Rights International, this submission documents that forced reproductive health interventions are frequently performed on women with disabilities who are deprived of legal capacity withouttheir consent, and sometimes under general anesthesia. Furthermore, even when women with disabilities retain their capacity, they may be coerced to terminate pregnancies by institution staff, and all women with disabilities in institutions face barriers to reporting and escaping violence. This submission provides several recommended questions and suggestions for concluding observations for the CEDAW Committee to utilize during its review of Serbia in February 2019.

    HRW WEI DRI Submission to CEDAW on Serbia FINAL January 28, 2019.pdf

    HRW WEI DRI Submission to CEDAW on Serbia FINAL January 28, 2019.docx


  • Jan. 28, 2019 WEI, La Liga Colombiana de Autismo, Asdown Colombia, Programa de Acción por la Igualdad y la Inclusión Social, and Profamilia Submission to the CEDAW Committee for its Review of Colombia

    18 de Enero de 2019 Presentación de WEI, La Liga Colombiana de Autismo, Asdown Colombia, Programa de Acción por la Igualdad y la Inclusión Social y Profamilia ante el Comité CEDAW en el marco de su Revisión Periódica sobre Colombia 

    This submission outlines human rights violations in Colombia that uniquely or disproportionately affect women with disabilities, as compared to other women. In particular, the submission documents that Colombian law allows women with disabilities to be stripped of legal capacity, which is a human rights violation in itself and also heightens the risk of other violations, including forced reproductive health interventions and denials of access to justice. Furthermore, the submission documents that women with disabilities experience higher rates of gender-based violence, due to -among other factors- harmful stereotypes and disempowerment, which is aggravated among those who live in poverty and social exclusion. The submission also highlights that women with disabilities face significant barriers to accessing sexual and reproductive health information, goods, and services, and that forced sterilizations performed on persons with disabilities are still legal in Colombia, a situation that disproportionately impacts women with disabilities. This submission provides several recommended questions and suggestions for concluding observations for the CEDAW Committee to utilize during its review of Colombia in February 2019.

    La presentación resume las violaciones de derechos humanos que afectan a las mujeres con discapacidad en Colombia de forma única y desproporcionada en comparación con otras mujeres. En particular, explica que la ley colombiana aún permite que las mujeres con discapacidad sean despojadas de su capacidad jurídica, lo que no solo constituye una violación de derechos humanos en sí misma, sino que además aumenta el riesgo de otras violaciones, como intervenciones forzosas en el ámbito de su salud reproductiva y denegaciones de acceso a la justicia. Además, la presentación denuncia que las mujeres con discapacidad experimentan índices más altos de violencia de género debido a -entre otros factores- estereotipos negativos y falta de poder, lo que se ve agravado entre las mujeres en situación de pobreza y exclusión social. La presentación también destaca que las mujeres con discapacidad enfrentan grandes barreras para acceder a información, bienes y servicios sobre salud sexual y reproductiva, y que aun son legales las esterilizaciones forzadas, lo que impacta de forma desproporcionada a las mujeres con discapacidad. Finalmente, la presentación provee algunas preguntas y recomendaciones para las observaciones finales, a fin de que el Comité las utilice durante la revisión de Colombia en Febrero 2019.

    Colombia Informe Sombra para CEDAW - LICA, ASDOWN, PAIIS, Profamilia, WEI enero 2019.pdf

    Colombia Informe Sombra para CEDAW - LICA, ASDOWN, PAIIS, Profamilia, WEI enero 2019.docx

    Colombia CEDAW Shadow Report (English Summary) - LICA, ASDOWN, PAIIS, Profamilia, WEI January 2019.pdf

    Colombia CEDAW Shadow Report (English Summary) - LICA, ASDOWN, PAIIS, Profamilia, WEI January 2019.docx


  • Jan. 25, 2019 WEI and Sisters of Frida Submission to the CEDAW Committee for its Review of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland

    This submission documents rights violations that uniquely or disproportionately affect women with disabilities in the United Kingdom (UK). Drawing on academic and government research, this submission highlights that women with disabilities are at higher risk of gender-based violence in the UK, particularly sexual and domestic violence, and face increased barriers to accessing justice following that violence due to stereotypes based on both their gender and disability. Furthermore, this submission notes that women with disabilities and their families have been disproportionately impacted by the UK’s recent austerity measures and resulting changes to social benefits, leading to sometimes dramatic cuts in benefits that put their lives and livelihoods at risk. Finally, this submission summarizes research that women with disabilities in the UK experience significant gaps in maternal health services, which impacts their rights to health and to found a family on an equal basis with others. The submission provides several recommended questions and suggestions for concluding observations for the CEDAW Committee to utilize during its review of the UK in February 2019.

    SoF WEI Uk CEDAW Submission FINAL January 25, 2018.pdf

    SoF WEI Uk CEDAW Submission FINAL January 25, 2018.docx


  • Jan. 14, 2019 Submission on Women, Girls, and Non-binary Persons with Disabilities in the United States of America for the Human Rights Committee's List of Issues Prior to Reporting (LOIPR)

    This is a preliminary submission that provides a brief overview of some of the civil and political rights violations facing women, girls, and nonbinary persons with disabilities in the U.S.  This submission provides a brief factual overview of the violations women, girls, and nonbinary persons with disabilities face concerning sexual and reproductive health, parenting, gender-based violence, and incarceration. It further provides suggestions for questions that the Human Rights Committee could include in its LOIPR on these topics as they affect women, girls, and nonbinary persons with disabilities. This submission was drafted by Women Enabled International and endorsed by Autistic Women and Nonbinary Network, Human Rights and Gender Justice Clinic at the CUNY School of Law, Inclusion International, U.S. International Council on Disability (USICD), World Institute on Disability, and Robin Wilson-Beattie.

    WEI LOIPR Submission to Human Rights Committee on the United States January 14, 2019 FINAL.pdf

    WEI LOIPR Submission to Human Rights Committee on the United States January 14, 2019 FINAL.docx


  • Sept. 24, 2018 WEI, the Human Rights and Gender Justice Clinic, and Amnesty International submit amicus brief to the New York Court of Appeals about the right of women with disabilities to be mothers

    In July 2018, Women Enabled International, the Human Rights and Gender Justice Clinic at the City University of New York (CUNY) School of Law, and Amnesty International submitted an amicus brief to the Court of Appeals of the State of New York addressing the rights of women with disabilities to parent and to be free from discrimination. Harmful stereotypes that women with disabilities are incapable of parenting can unduly influence judicial determinations of custody, placing women with disabilities at higher risk of having their children taken away. The amicus brief, which was submitted in support of a woman with an intellectual disability whose newborn child was removed from her custody before she was discharged from the hospital, details the international human rights standards on disability-related discrimination and discusses what countries must do to respect the right to family for both women with disabilities and their children.

    WEI - Lacee Amicus Final Filed - July 2018.pdf


  • July 31, 2018 ONE.pl and WEI Submission to the CRPD Committee for its Review of Poland

    This submission to the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD Committee), drafted by Association for Women with Disabilities ONE.pl and WEI, addresses human rights violations against women and girls with disabilities in Poland. These violations include discrimination, stereotypes, exclusion from public participation, and lack of data collection; higher rates of gender-based violence; sexual and reproductive rights violations including forced sterilization and abortion as well as lack of access to respectful maternal health care, contraception, and abortion services and comprehensive sexuality education; discrimination in education and employment; and denial of legal capacity. This submission also outlines how Poland's reservations to the CRPD impact women and girls with disabilities and violate the object and purpose of the treaty, calling on Poland to withdraw those reservations. Read the publications:

    ONEpl and WEI Submission to CRPD Committee Review of Poland July 31, 2018.pdf

    ONEpl and WEI Submission to CRPD Committee Review of Poland July 31, 2018.docx



  • July 31, 2018 WEI and South Africa Partners Submission to the CRPD Committee for its Review of South Africa

    WEI partnered with eight local organizations - Cape Mental Health, Centre for Human Rights at The University of Pretoria, Epilepsy South Africa, Khuluma Family Counselling, Lawyers for Human Rights, Port Elizabeth Mental Health, SA Federation for Mental Health, and The Teddy Bear Clinic for Abused Children.  The report included anecdotal evidence collected from four local mental health organizations. This submission describes human rights violations against women and girls with disabilities in South Africa, including failure to take all appropriate measures to ensure the full development, advancement, and empowerment of women and girls with disabilities or affirmative measures to address discrimination; inaccessible justice systems and procedures; lack of accessible gender-based violence services and other supports and services for women and girls with disabilities and their families and caregivers; institutionalization, violence in institutions, and deficient support and oversight of institutions and other facilities for persons with disabilities; violations of women with disabilities' right to make their own reproductive choices and their right to legal capacity; lack of comprehensive sexuality education and discriminatory attitudes of healthcare providers; and lack of data collection disaggregated by disability and gender.

    Through this submission, our organizations made the following key recommendations:

      • Take specific measures to address the discrimination experienced by women and girls with disabilities and to empower women and girls with disabilities, especially black women with disabilities. 
      • Improve access to justice for women and girls with disabilities by amending laws and policies and providing training to justice system actors. 
      • Combat abuse and violence against women and girls with disabilities by ensuring gender-based violence services are accessible and available in disadvantaged areas; by developing inclusive awareness raising programs; by conducting research on the availability of programs and monitoring programs; and by investing in preventative gender-based violence programs. 
      • Amend laws that compromise South African women with disabilities' right to make their own reproductive choices and their right to legal capacity. 
      • Ensure that comprehensive sexuality education programs are available and accessible to women and girls with disabilities. 
      • Collect data on the issues that most impact women and girls with disabilities and ensure that women and girls with disabilities are included in all data collected about women and in all data collected about persons with disabilities.

    WEI et al South Africa CRPD Committee Shadow Report Submission - July 31, 2018.pdf

    WEI et al South Africa CRPD Committee Shadow Report Submission - July 31, 2018.docx

     


  • April 30, 2018 WEI, Advocacy for Women with Disabilities Initiative (AWWDI),  and Legal Defence and Assistance Project (LEDAP) Shadow Letter on Nigeria to the Human Rights Committee for its development of a List of Issues in the Absence of a State Report. WEI, AWWDI, and LEDAP submitted a shadow letter to the Human Rights Committee for its development of a list of issues on Nigeria, to be used in a future review of Nigeria’s human rights record under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). Drawing on particular case examples and analysis of current laws, the letter highlights that, because of their gender and disability, women and girls with disabilities in Nigeria face multiple layers of discrimination and stereotypes about their capabilities. As a result, they are denied access to sexual and reproductive health services, subjected to practices like forced sterilization, forced contraception, or forced abortion, and are more likely to experience gender-based violence. Women and girls with disabilities in Nigeria's conflict zones are also frequently left behind when violence comes to their communities, increasing their risk of experiencing gender-based violence, with little access to justice or services. The shadow letter concludes with several recommendations for questions the Human Rights Committee should include in its list of issues to Nigeria, which the Committee will develop in July 2018.

    WEI AWWDI LEDAP letter to HRC Nigeria List of Issues Submission FINAL.pdf

    WEI AWWDI LEDAP letter to HRC Nigeria List of Issues Submission FINAL.docx


  • April 20, 2018 Women Enabled International, Movimiento Estamos Tod@s en Acción and Mesa de Trabajo en Discapacidad y Derechos Humanos de Córdoba Shadow Letter on Argentina to the CRC Committee

    Carta sombra de Women Enabled International, el Movimiento Estamos Tod@s en Acción y la Mesa de Trabajo en Discapacidad y Derechos Humanos de Córdoba al Comité de los Derechos del Niño


    Women Enabled International (WEI), Movimiento Estamos Tod@s en Acción (META Argentina) and Mesa de Trabajo en Discapacidad y Derechos Humanos de Córdoba jointly submitted a shadow letter on rights violations against girls and adolescents with disabilities in Argentina to the Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC Committee). This submission focuses specifically on sexual and reproductive health and rights and the right to live free from gender based and sexual violence. The submission also highlights the forced institutionalization of children and adolescents with disabilities in Argentina and the lack of State support for the implementation of the National Mental Health Law. In addition, the submission outlines the obstacles for implementing human rights standards for inclusive education in Argentina and the impact of the denial of the right to social security on children [and adolescents] with disabilities. The shadow letter concludes with several recommendations for the CRC Committee to include in its concluding observations to Argentina following the May 2018 review.  Please note that the submission is written in Spanish.
     
    WEI, el Movimiento Estamos Tod@s en Acción (META Argentina) y la Mesa de Trabajo en Discapacidad y Derechos Humanos de Córdoba presentaron de manera conjunta una carta sombra sobre las violaciones del Estado Argentino a los derechos de niñas y adolescentes con discapacidad al Comité de los Derechos del Niño (el Comité). La carta hace énfasis específicamente en sus derechos y salud sexual y reproductiva y al derecho a vivir libres de violencia sexual y de género. La carta también resalta la persistencia de la institucionalización forzosa de niños, niñas y adolescentes (NNA) con discapacidad en Argentina y la falta de apoyo del Estado para la implementación efectiva de la Ley Nacional de Salud Mental. Adicionalmente, el documento destaca la existencia de obstáculos en la implementación de estándares de derechos humanos sobre educación inclusiva en Argentina y el impacto de la denegación del derecho a la seguridad social de NNA con discapacidad. La carta concluye con varias recomendaciones para que el Comité incluya en sus observaciones finales a Argentina con ocasión de la revisión que tendrá lugar en mayo de 2018.

META MESA WEI Shadow Letter/Carta sombra CRC Argentina April 19, 2018 (PDF)

META MESA WEI Shadow Letter/Carta sombra CRC Argentina April 19, 2018 (Word doc)

 



  • January 31, 2018 Preliminary Shadow Letter on South Africa to the CRPD Committee List of Issues

    WEI, Cape Mental Health, Professor Helene Combrinck of North-West University, The Centre for Human Rights at the University of Pretoria, and Lawyers for Human Rights submitted a preliminary shadow letter on the rights of women and girls with disabilities to the CRPD Committee to assist the Committee in developing a list of important issues it should address with South Africa during its upcoming review in September. This letter highlights gaps in South Africa's state report to the CRPD Committee, including concerning gender-based violence and access to services, sexual and reproductive rights care and violations, legal capacity, access to justice, and lack of data and statistics on women with disabilities

    South Africa CRPD LOI Submission Women with Disabilities Jan 31 2018 FINAL.pdf

    South Africa CRPD LOI Submission Women with Disabilities Jan 31 2018 FINAL.docx



  • November 30, 2017 WEI Comments to the CRPD Committee on its Draft General Comment No. 6 on Equality and Non-Discrimination

    Persons with disabilities, including women and girls with disabilities, experience unique violations of their rights as a result of discrimination based on disability and other statuses. Some of these violations—including disability-based violence and violations in the context of sexual and reproductive rights—not only result from disability-based discrimination but are also distinct forms of discrimination. Through this submission WEI provides comments related to the rights of women and girls with disabilities to the CRPD Committee on its Draft General Comment on Equality and Non-Discrimination. These comments focus on three areas: (1) recognizing violence against persons with disabilities as a form of discrimination; (2) recognizing discrimination in the context of the right to health, particularly concerning the sexual and reproductive rights of women and girls with disabilities; and (3) better defining multiple and intersectional discrimination, particularly as it affects women and girls with disabilities. In the discussion on sexual and reproductive rights, WEI's comments address the issue of prenatal genetic testing, recommending that the CRPD Committee change language in the Draft General Comment to ensure that all women and girls, including women and girls with disabilities, have the information they need to exercise autonomy in the context of pregnancy.

    WEI Submission CRPD Draft GC6 Equality and Non-Discrimination FINAL November 30 2017.pdf

    WEI Submission CRPD Draft GC6 Equality and Non-Discrimination FINAL November 30 2017.docx


  • November 22, 2017 WEI Submission to the Special Rapporteur on the Right to Health, Deprivation of Liberty & the Right to Health for Women With Disabilities. The right to health and deprivation of liberty are linked in numerous and complex ways. The threat of detention that permeates access to certain forms of health care or access to health care for certain populations can have a chilling effect on the exercise of the right to health. For individuals who have been deprived of their liberty, access to acceptable and quality health care can be particularly elusive. According to the World Health Organization and the World Bank, women and girls with disabilities constitute 19.2% of women worldwide, making up a substantial portion of the global population. At the same time, women with disabilities make up a disproportional percentage of the population of women deprived of their liberty, including in both traditional detention settings and institutional settings. This submission focuses on two key areas in which the right to health and deprivation of liberty intersect. Section I discusses how the threat of detention can deter access to essential health services for women, including women with disabilities. Section II addresses gaps in the provision of appropriate and quality health care to women with disabilities in detention settings with attendant health consequences, with a particular focus on women with psychosocial disabilities who are disproportionately represented in jails and prisons. The submission concludes with a few recommendations for how the Special Rapporteur’s forthcoming report can advance the normative framework in these areas.

    WEI Deprivation of Liberty and Right to Health for WWD to SR Health November 22, 2017 FINAL.pdf

    WEI Deprivation of Liberty and Right to Health for WWD to SR Health November 22, 2017 FINAL.docx

  • October 16, 2017 Women Enabled International (WEI) submitted comments to the U.N. Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) for a report to the Human Rights Council on the right to health and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. WEI's submission, which was endorsed by five other non-governmental organizations from around the world, provides information about sexual and reproductive health and rights of women and girls with disabilities, highlighting violations to their rights to informed consent, accessibility and non-discrimination. Current human rights and medical ethics standards require free and informed consent for reproductive health procedures, but women and girls with disabilities are still subjected to forced and coerced medical treatments. They also experience violations to required accessibility standards of sexual and reproductive health information, goods, and services, as well as discrimination in health care contexts. WEI provides suggested recommendations to implement and monitor Sustainable Development Goals with the right to health for women and girls with disabilities in mind.

    WEI OHCHR Submission on SDGs & Health & Women & Girls with Disabilities October 16, 2017 FINAL.pdf

    WEI OHCHR Submission on SDGs & Health & Women & Girls with Disabilities October 16, 2017 FINAL.docx

  • October 5, 2017  Women Enabled International submitted comments to the UN Special Rapporteur on Extreme Poverty and Human Rights for his December 2017 visit to the United States. WEI's submission provides evidence about the disproportionate rate of poverty for women with disabilities in the United States and explores some of the causes and consequences of that poverty, including unemployment, lower wages, and less access to social protection income; gender-based violence; and lack of access to health services, including sexual and reproductive health services. The submission concludes with some suggestions about organizations the Special Rapporteur should contact during his visit, as well as questions he should ask the government and recommendations he should make to the US in his country visit report.

    WEI SR Extreme Poverty Submission on United States October 4, 2017 FINAL.pdf

    WEI SR Extreme Poverty Submission on United States October 4, 2017 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


  • October 2016 Video: WEI's statement at A Rights-Based Approach to Zika conference


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

    Listen to the audio for Women with Disabilities - Towards Inclusive Politics & Policies 5-19-16

    Accessible controls: play or pause Women Deliver Panel SRHR of Women with Disabilities Towards Inclusive Politics and Policies 5-19-16

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

    Sexual & Reproductive Health & Rights of Women with Disabilities

    Date: Thursday, May 19, 2016          Location: Conference Room B3-3            Time: 13:30-14:30

    Women with Disabilities are the world’s largest minority. In the session, presenters will share strategies to link women with disabilities with Sustainable Development Goals implementation and build a transformative cross-sectoral advocacy platform to advance sexuality, disability rights, women’s rights and human rights.

    Stephanie Ortoleva, President & Legal Director, Women Enabled International

    Andrea Parra, Women Enabled International and Aquelarre Trans, Colombia

    Nidhi Goyal, Programme Director, Point of View and Stand Up Comedian

    Katrina Anderson, Senior Human Rights Counsel, Center for Reproductive Rights

    Tanzila Khan, Founder, Creative Alley, Women Deliver Young Leader, Pakistan

    Rupsa Mallik, Director, Programmes and Innovation, CREA
     

  • Updated June 22, 2016 Originally posted April 23, 2016 As we all know, the news is filled with discussions regarding the Zika virus, microcephaly, access to abortion, and women's sexual and reproductive rights—sometimes from a medical perspective, sometimes from a community health perspective, sometimes from a women's rights perspective, and occasionally from a disability rights perspective. When confronted with such an emotional issue in a climate of medical uncertainty and insecurity, nuanced language is often not reflected in the dialogues. After reading many of these perspectives, Women Enabled International (WEI) sets out a more nuanced perspective to frame a discussion that reflects the inherent rights and dignity of all affected by the Zika virus based on an intersectional disability and women's human rights perspective. We begin with an overview of the key medical facts as we understand them based on current scientific evidence, recognizing that new information is emerging on a regular basis, to ensure that this conversation is grounded in a common understanding of existing evidence. We conclude with an overview of some of the core international legal obligations that underpin the perspectives we layout in this document.

    Please see WEI's Talking Points below in English, Spanish and Portuguese. We hope these are helpful and that they contribute to the discussions. Please contact us with any questions at Info@WomenEnabled.org.  We greatly appreciate Translators Without Borders for these translations into Spanish and Portuguese.

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

    WEI Temas de debate: Zika, microcefalia, derechos de la mujer y derechos de las personas con discapacidad
    Espanol PDF   |  Espanol Word docx   (translation updated October 2017)

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

     
  • 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.
  • 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)

  • Updated May 2, 2015
    Women Enabled International Articles Bibliography Women With Disabilities, Sexual and Reproductive Rights - Draft.

    This Bibliography of law Review and Social Science journal Articles on Sexual and Reproductive Rights of Women and Girls with Disabilities is a work in progress and updated versions of this resource will be posted as the list is updated.
  • Updated May 1, 2015
    Women Enabled International, Sexual and Reproductive Rights of Women and Girls with Disabilities, International Policy Resources - Draft
    , This list of International Policy Resources on Sexual and Reproductive Rights of Women and Girls with Disabilities is a work in progress and updated versions of this resource will be posted as the list is updated.
  • September 13, 2014 Submission to the United Nations Universal Periodic Review by Women Enabled International and Center for Reproductive Rights
    In collaboration with the Center for Reproductive Rights, Women Enabled International submitted this report to the Human Rights Council for use in its review of the United States. Our submission focuses on human rights violations against women and girls with disabilities in the United States, specifically violence and interference with sexual and reproductive rights. Women Enabled International participated in the United States Government's consultations with Civil Society as the United States prepares for its review by the HRC. 
  • September 22, 2014 Submission to the Committee Against Torture by Center for Reproductive Rights, Women Enabled International, and National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health. This submission focuses on how three groups of women who face multiple forms of discrimination in the U.S. are disproportionately subjected to severe physical or mental suffering that amounts to torture or ill-treatment in the exercise of their reproductive rights: (1) poor, rural and immigrant women in the Rio Grande Valley of Texas who are denied reproductive health care; (2) immigrant women in detention who are denied access to reproductive health care and subjected to shackling; and (3) women and girls with disabilities who are subject to forced or coerced sterilization.  Women Enabled International participated in the United States Government's consultations with Civil Society as the U.S. prepares for its review by the CAT Committee. 
  • May 5, 2014 Women Enabled and the Center for Reproductive Rights submit to the CRPD Committee our comments on draft CRPD Article 9 on Accessibility, raising important issues relating to access to sexual and reproductive health care services and rights for women with disabilities. Read the comments (PDF) (Word doc)
  • 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.
  • 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 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.
  • 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 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.

    Carolyn Frohmader, the Executive Director of Women With Disabilities Australia, served as a member of the Reference Group charged with planning the Conference and as a result of her fierce advocacy, Carolyn broke ground for women with disabilities to participate in this significant invitation-only human rights conference.  Three women with disabilities were invited to the conference and brought visibility and voice to the human rights violations women and girls with disabilities face around the world: Stephanie Ortoleva, representing Women Enabled, Inc., Myra Kovary, representing the International Network of Women With Disabilities, and Therese Sands, representing Women With Disabilities Australia.  

    The main themes of the conference were inequality and accountability.  The slogan of the conference was "all different, all human, all equal."  There was a strong focus on not leaving anyone behind.  One would have thought that women with disabilities (approximately 20% of the world's women and girls) would have been a priority.  Women with disabilities had been mentioned in the original opening documents, but Carolyn had to fight for us to get a real place at the table.  She demanded more attention to women with disabilities in the background paper and, on very short notice, Carolyn and Stephanie drafted a paper on the sexual and reproductive rights of women and girls with disabilities that is posted prominently on the conference website as a reference document at http://humanrights.icpdbeyond2014.org/issues.

    At the conference, we raised many issues regarding sexual and reproductive health rights, violence against women with disabilities, and our lack of autonomy.  Stephanie was invited to serve as a Discussant for the break-out session discussion on discrimination and violence against women where she highlighted women and girls with disabilities and the need for government accountability and due diligence to end these violations.  (This Discussant Statement will soon be posted on the Women Enabled website.)  Stephanie also made a key intervention on women with disabilities during the main plenary on Monday, 8 July, regarding the need for greater inclusion of women with disabilities in the discussions, watch the video at:  http://hosting.dutchview.nl/hr20130708b/videoiframe.php. Therese co-led a round table Human Rights Café’conversation with Geetanjali Misra, CREA, on sexual and reproductive health rights of people with disabilities which brought greater focus to these issues.     

    We spent our spare time at the conference lobbying behind the scenes – Myra (who also serves on the Board of Directors of Women Enabled, Inc.) was especially vigorous on this. We talked with the UN High Commissioner of Human Rights, the Executive Director of the UN Population Fund, the facilitator of the session on emerging issues that had not been adequately addressed in the conference, several speakers, some of whom mentioned disability but often used the words "the disabled" instead of persons or women with disabilities, and   other conference participants to raise awareness of the concerns of women and girls with disabilities.  We each made interventions during the breakout session discussions.  We also posted many cards on the bulletin boards where we added further thoughts to those discussions.

    Our presence brought human faces with clear voices, demanding equality for women with disabilities, the right to full sexual and reproductive health rights, freedom from gender-based violence, and the right to make our own decisions.  We raised issues of forced sterilization, forced abortion, forced contraception, forced psychiatric interventions, rape and other forms of sexual and gender-based violence and the urgent need for accessible and affordable sexual and reproductive health care, information and education, and we proposed solutions to make the conference more accessible and inclusive. 

    The conference participants wrote messages on kites that reflected our vision and hope for a world where all human rights, and particularly our sexual and reproductive human rights, are respected, protected and fulfilled.  At the end of the conference, we all went to the beach to fly our kites for human rights.   

    The work was difficult.  We still have a long way to go but we definitely made a difference.  It is our hope that women with disabilities will no longer be "left behind" and that the ICPD agenda will move us into a new era where all women and girls, including all women and girls with all disabilities, can truly claim our human rights. 

    Again, Carolyn Frohmader (who also serves as a member of the Board of Directors of Women Enabled, Inc.) deserves our deep appreciation.  The fact that three women with disabilities were at the conference to advocate for our rights and work as a team made our presence stronger.
  • 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).This invitation-only conference is co-organized by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) and the Government of the Netherlands. Part of the UN-mandated review of the 1994 ICPD Programme of Action, the conference will bring together representatives from government, civil society and UN agencies, as well as experts and human rights defenders to identify key achievements, barriers and emerging challenges to delivering the goals of ICPD. The conference will focus 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.Stephanie will be the lead discussant for one of the parallel group discussions,which has the purpose of providing participants with a space for a dedicated interaction and debate on the priority theme of the issue of gender-based discrimination and violence with a focus on the strengthening of accountability systems to monitor government policies to prevent and address discrimination and violence including harmful practices; to address the claims of victims of discrimination and violence; as well as to increase the accountability of international cooperation actors in this field. For information on the ICPD Beyond 2014 conference and process, visit http://humanrights.icpdbeyond2014.org
  • 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
  • August 2011 PDF: Disability rights and reproductive rights advocates joined to file a Brief in Gauer and Others v France at the European Court of Human Rights challenging France's forced sterilization of women with intellectual disabilities, drawing on provisions of the CRPD and other human rights treaties prohibiting discrimination on the basis of gender and disability and denial of the right of access to justice.
  • June 2011 The International Federation of Gynecology and Obstetrics Speaks Out Against Non-Consensual Forced Sterilization of Women and Girls with Disabilities. Read the Guidelines:
    FIGO Guidelines 2011 PDF Version | FIGO Guidelines 2011 Word Document
  • June 2011 VIDEO: Stephanie Ortoleva thanks former U.S. Congresswoman Patricia Schroeder for her work on women's health with a personal tribute as a survivor of breast cancer - National Organization for Women National Conference, Florida, June 25, 2011 



    Or view the video on YouTube at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cEP_9izHR_E

 

 

 

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