EUD & FNSF Seminar
EUD highlights that according to the information received from the National Associations of the Deaf, none of the women in national parliaments, at the European Parliament, nor in ministries of the governments are deaf. The lack of deaf women’s participation in leadership and decision-making can often lead to the lack of gender and disability sensitive measures especially the ones that include intersectional perspectives. Accordingly, recognising that women’s equal political participation and representation in the decision making is the key to achieving equality and ensuring that policies affecting women consider various perspectives, including the perspectives of deaf women, EUD organised the second half of the seminar to address the topic of ‘Women in Politics.’
Deaf female leaders and former female Member of the European Parliament shared their experiences and explained why the inclusion of deaf women at all levels – in parliaments, governments and civil society is essential when ensuring that rights of deaf women and girls are protected and fulfilled. The seminar aimed to highlight that, despite the need for improvement in this area, deaf women are playing a prominent role in the public sphere, demonstrating their capacity and transformative role in political leadership and the amount of politically active deaf female leaders must increase. The Seminar was led by EUD Gender Equality working group Chair.
The first speaker, Helga Stevens – Deaf Flanders Executive Director (Belgium), was the first deaf woman to be elected in the European Parliament. Ms Stevens has been actively engaged in the political sphere, being involved in 20 elections over the course of 10 years. The second speaker, Concha Diaz Robledo – CNSE President (Spain), plays an active role in inspiring deaf women in Spain. For instance, gender balance is kept in CSNE – in both boards, in line with the CNSE Statutes 2008 which ensures equality between men and women. Further, Ms Diaz Robledo informed the delegates of a conference for deaf women in Spain, which is a space where they gather and inspire and empower one another. This is very important, as the discrimination deaf women face was highlighted. Ms Diaz Robledo closed by stating that it is important to involve everyone when ensuring gender equality, as it is not only women’s issue.
The next speaker, Lea Hyldstrup – DDL Board Member (Denmark), part of the LGBTQIA+ community, stated that, in a recent survey, 29% said they feel like those in the LGBTQIA+ community are not deserving of the same human rights as others. It should not be possible to separate society into different groups, with one group worth more than another. Accordingly, Ms Hyldstrup continued, it is important to reach out to deaf persons within this community to involve them and ask if they want to participate in things.
Finally, Lolo Danielsson and Catherine Zlatkovic from the European Deaf Women’s Forum, made some closing remarks. They explained that a workshop was held on supporting women during Covid, and about women in media as you don’t see many women in media or especially any deaf women in society. They insisted on the need for education in terms of how we can empower women and encourage one another. This should be a priority topic going forward to give this movement, in the deaf community, more meaning.