Addressing gender equality in the context of disability

Gender equality as a key challenge for disability inclusive development

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Gender equality as a key challenge for disability inclusive development
It is vital that gender equality should be recognized as a discrete issue and the gender dimensions of the disability inclusive development should be addressed as well with the following reasons.

  • As a result of aging and the longer life expectancy of women, the number of women with disabilities is likely to be higher in many populations than the number of men with disabilities. Many older women who are disabled may lack access to services/support. As life expectancy increases, this challenge will become more evident across more countries.

  • Gender equality and empowerment of women can reduce the female disability prevalence rate because many women become disabled because of gender discriminatory practices, including early and child marriage, early pregnancy and female genital mutilation.3

  • Strategies solely focusing on the disability don’t necessarily result in the enhanced gender equality among people with disabilities.

  • Women and girls with disabilities are discriminated differently from men: ie: women are at higher risk of sexual violence, forced sterilization, forced abortion and exposure to HIV/AIDS, among others. Thus, targeted interventions will result in more effective and efficient advocacy, including implementation and monitoring of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

  • Evidence indicates that the greater gender equality in education and employment make a marked contribution to development and economic growth. This is why the MDGs and the QCPR has gender equality as a standalone goal. As stressed in the “Incheon strategy to “Make the Right Real” for Persons with Disabilities in Asia and the Pacific4, promotion of gender equality and empowerment of women with disabilities is necessary for the achievement of the disability inclusive development.

  • To advance the rights of women with disabilities in society and development, it is essential that their perspectives be included in all aspects of work for women’s empowerment, and that all work on disability incorporate a gender perspective. Without the meaningful participation of women with disabilities in the disability dialogue, the goal of “nothing about us without us” cannot be achieved.

The new key challenge promotes gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls as women’s human rights and must address the underlying structural causes of gender inequality. The Special Rapporteur on Violence against Women, its causes and consequences, Rashida Manjoo has proposed a “Gender mainstreaming, disability inclusive” approach in her report on violence against women with disabilities as encompassing rather than a disability-inclusive approach. Specific targets to promote the rights of women and girls with disabilities should focus on:

  • Women with disabilities’ increased leadership, recognition and participation in decisions that affect their lives;

  • Increased economic participation and empowerment by ensuring their access to decent work with equitable pay and good working conditions, as well as to land and other assets;

  • Ending all forms of violence against women and girls with disabilities and ensuring their access to justice/survivor services

  • Increased participation in peace, security and in disaster risk reduction and in humanitarian response.

  • Ensuring women and girls with disabilities have the capacity to make choices, including about their sexual and reproductive health and rights

  • Ensuring girls with disabilities have equal access to both primary and secondary education

  • Challenging social norms that create discrimination and perpetuate prejudices against women and girls with disabilities

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