Bringing visibility to the link between disability, gender and violence is critical to address gender-based violence faced by women and girls with disabilities
Considering the intersectionality between disability, gender and violence from a human rights perspective to contribute to a life free of violence for all women is a challenge that needs to be addressed, even more so during the COVID-19 pandemic. Accepting this challenge can save lives; postponing it in the interest of other priorities is neither ethical nor beneficial for society as a whole and, in particular, for women with disabilities, who have witnessed how the crisis has exacerbated the violation of their rights and the inequalities to which they are subjected.
In this context, UN Women has prepared the document "Accepting the challenge - Women with disabilities: for a life free of violence. An inclusive and cross-cutting perspective" where some lessons learned in the framework of the joint project The right to equality and non-discrimination of persons with disabilities, implemented in Uruguay for the period 2018 and 2020, are explored. These experiences can guide other countries in Latin America and the Caribbean towards a greater articulation between disability, gender, and violence, making progress in terms of inclusion and equality of women and girls with disabilities.
As established by the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in its Art. 1 "Persons with disabilities include those who have long-term physical, mental, intellectual or sensory impairments which in interaction with various barriers may hinder their full and effective participation in society on an equal basis with others."
The crises caused by COVID-19 has had a differentiated impact on women and girls, exacerbating already existing inequalities. This gap has become even greater in the case of those women and girls who face diverse and intersecting forms of discrimination and inequality, as is the case of women and girls with disabilities. With regard to the upsurge in gender-based violence against women and girls, the UN Secretary-General issued an urgent call to ensure that combating GBV is a vital part of countries' response to COVID-19.
In the case of women and girls with disabilities, their vulnerability to gender-based violence is even greater. While the lack of systematic data precludes a sustained analysis over time, available statistics, as well as direct work with women and girls with disabilities and the organizations that represent or work with them, report the increased risk faced by this group, along with the aggravating factor that they experience more barriers in accessing violence prevention and response services. This vulnerability decreases or increases depending on the socioeconomic and cultural context and should be considered when formulating public policies aimed at violence prevention.
This document has been developed in collaboration with the Disability Inclusion and Intersectionality Area of UN Women and in the context of the COVID-19 Global Program to Support Disability-Inclusive Response and Recovery at the country level, supported by the United Nations Fund to Promote the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNPRPD).