Women with Disabilities Day observed on March 28 aims to increase awareness about the rights and situation of women with disabilities by serving as a portal of resources and work of the United Nations in this area.
The entry into force in 2008 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities gave hundreds of millions of such people a powerful tool that they could use to overcome their problems. By asserting the rights of people with disabilities to education, health, work, adequate living conditions, freedom of movement, freedom from exploitation and equal recognition before the law, the Convention also made it possible especially for women to have access to services and opportunities that would allow them to make decisions for themselves.
More than 600 million people in the world or 10 percent of the world’s population live with disabilities and they frequently encounter physical and social obstacles. They often lack the opportunities of the mainstream population and are usually the most marginalized in society. Disabled women face barriers to full equality and advancement because of such factors as race, age, language, ethnicity, culture, and religion. In certain cultures, legal and institutional barriers make women and girls with disabilities the victims of twofold discrimination – as women and girls and as persons with disabilities.
People who do not have experience with disabilities in their lives should be aware of what is out there. They should understand what it’s like to struggle with poverty and abuse, to face challenges in silence and isolation, to have few opportunities for work and little or no access to healthcare and shelter.
Girls and women with any form of disability are among the more vulnerable and marginalized in society. There is, therefore, need to take their special needs into account and address their concerns in all policymaking and programs.