The European Economic Social Committee’s Permanent Study Group on Disability Rights organised a public hearing on “Women with Disabilities in the EU: Situation and Way Forward.” The aim of the event was to look into the situation of women with disabilities in the EU and propose some recommendations to improve it.
During the hearing several outstanding presenters took floor. Ana Palez Narváez from CERMI Women’s Foundation highlighted that one in five women has a disability, therefore State Parties to the UN Convention of Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UN CRPD or the Convention) must fully implement Article 6 of the Convention and must take measures to ensure the full and equal enjoyment of all human rights and fundamental freedoms for women with disabilities. States Parties to the Convention must take all appropriate measures to ensure the full development, advancement and empowerment of women with disabilities. General Comment Nr 3 is a valuable tool that should be used while implementing the article. It explains how to combat multiple forms of discrimination and how to empower and support women with disabilities themselves. Mrs Palez Narváez emphasised that State Parties to the Convention must revise existing legislation, policies and practices which are against women and girls with disabilities in order to comply with Article 6 of the UNCRPD.
Helga Stevens, Member of the European Parliament, emphasised that in Europe significant efforts have been made in terms of gender equality and empowerment of women in society. However, discrimination against women still exists and Europe often fails to include the rights of women in its political and economic decision making. Mrs Stevens highlighted that EU should continue taking measures to promote the rights of women and girls with disabilities in its policies. The EU should also initiate concrete projects to achieve their empowerment and full participation in all fields of life and to support the setting up of organisations, networks and groups of women with disabilities. It was emphasised that this is extremely important since women with disabilities continue to be confronted with multiple discrimination, facing substantial obstacles in realising their basic rights and freedoms such as the right to access education and employment, which can lead to social exclusion.
On the European level, the European Parliament adopted two resolutions regarding the implementation of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and the European Disability Strategy. The two resolutions contain many specific references to women and girls with disabilities throughout the text. It highlights that women and girls with disabilities are exposed to several dimensions of discrimination in their everyday lives which takes a variety of forms – physical, emotional, sexual and economic. Such dimensions of discrimination must be removed immediately, so women with disabilities are fully included in the societies.
Mark Wheatley, Executive director of EUD, highlighted that EUD has a Working Group on Gender Equality, which focuses on empowerment of deaf women. The Working Group is led by EUD board member, Lolo Danielsson. Moreover, Mr Wheatley mentioned that in October 2018 EUD member, Spanish Federation of the Deaf (CNSE) in collaboration with FESORD CV (Federation of deaf people of the Valencian Community) will organise a European Conference on protection of deaf women’s rights and gender equality. CNSE’s Spanish Forum of Deaf Women will be involved in the conference. The objective of the conference is to increase understanding of situation of deaf women, create networks of deaf women and facilitate the exchange of information and collaboration between national associations of the deaf and EUD. Moreover, a working agenda for the defense of the rights of the deaf women and the inclusion of the gender perspective in the framework of the EUD’s work will be developed. The conference will take place from 18th to 20th October 2018.