Our Work: Health, Including Sexual and Reproductive Health

  • 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


  • 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 .

    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 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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