In all the discussions surrounding women's rights in the lead up to International women's day, disability seems to be one area that doesn't get much of a mention.
As a campaigner for disability rights in both children and adults - I want to speak out. But I'm going to let the United Nations and the World Bank do the talking for me.
Facts from the United Nations:
- Mortality rates amongst girls with disabilities are much higher than for boys with disabilities
- The World Bank estimates that 20 per cent of the world's poorest people have some kind of disability, and tend to be regarded in their own communities as the most disadvantaged.
- Women with disabilities are recognised to be multiply disadvantaged, experiencing exclusion on account of their gender and their disability.
- Women and girls with disabilities are particularly vulnerable to abuse. A small 2004 survey in Orissa, India, found that virtually all of the women and girls with disabilities were beaten at home, 25 per cent of women with intellectual disabilities had been raped and 6 per cent of women with disabilities had been forcibly sterilized.
- The global literacy rate for adults with disabilities is as low as 3 per cent, and 1 per cent for women with disabilities, according to a 1998 UNDP study.
- In Europe, North America and Australia, over half of women with disabilities have experienced physical abuse, compared to one-third of non-disabled women
Despite the high numbers of women and girls with disabilities – especially in developing countries – many women with disabilities report feeling “invisible” in the development context and largely absent from the development agenda. Even when gender considerations are incorporated into development projects, the specific perspectives and needs of women and girls with disabilities are seldom sought or incorporated.
Women with disabilities make up a sizeable proportion of the global population, and a majority of the population of persons with disabilities in developing countries. Although firm statistics have been difficult to acquire, current researches estimate that:
- Literacy rates for women with disabilities globally may be as low as 1% (UNDP)
- Women with disabilities make up at least 10% of all women globally (WHO)
- Women with disabilities comprise three quarters of all disabled people in low and middle-income countries (USAID)
- 65-70% of women with disabilities in low and middle-income countries live in rural areas (USAID)
- Women in general are more likely than men to become disabled because of poorer working conditions, poor access to quality healthcare, and gender-based violence (ILO)
- Only 25% of women with disabilities are in the global workforce (UN)
- Because of increased risk of gender-based violence and lack of access to reproductive health care services, women with disabilities face unique challenges in preventing HIV infection (WB)