According to APF France Handicap, member of the COFACE Disability Platform for the rights of persons with disabilities and their families, 83% of women with disabilities in France estimate that the fact of being women with a disability makes their lives more difficult. To tackle that, APF France Handicap launched apolitical campaign ‘Femmes en situation de handicap: stop aux stéréotypes, aux inégalités et aux violences’, including personal testimonies, a political statement, testimonies and requests. APF France Handicap calls for greater visibility of women and girls with disabilities in statistics on gender and disability, in campaigns on women and in particular on gender-based violence and in the political, media and social fields.
According to the United Nations, girls and young women with disabilities are up to 10 times more likely to experience gender-based violence than those without disabilities, “women and girls with disabilities are often at greater risk, both within and outside the home, of violence, injury or abuse, neglect or negligent treatment, maltreatment or exploitation.” (UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities). Last year, the European Economic and Social Committee adopted an opinion highlighting that gender – and disability-based discrimination affecting some 40 million women in Europe.
COFACE Families Europe decided to shed a light on this phenomenon with a media release, on the International Women’s Day, calling the European Union to adopt long-term objectives to ensure full and gender equal implementation of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. On the same day, the European Disability Forum (EDF) of which COFACE Families Europe is member, launched a position paper on “Sexual and reproductive health and rights of women and girls with disabilities which highlights that:
- No one should interfere on the autonomous choices of women with disabilities on their own bodies.
- States need to ensure that women with disabilities are well informed about their rights. All decisions should be taken with their fully informed and prior consent.
- The above applies also to abortion. States should decriminalise abortion in all circumstances and legalise it in a manner that fully respects the autonomy of women with disabilities.
- States need to assure the end all forms of discrimination and abuse. This includes forced sterilisation, forced abortion, forced contraception, female genital mutilation and incest.
- States need to ensure that all women with disabilities have full access to justice.
- States need to assure that all women with disabilities have access to proper sexual and reproductive healthcare and education.