USICD Statement Recognizing 2010 International Women's Day

March 8, 2010

The members, staff and Board of Directors of the United States International Council on Disabilities (USICD) today join women and allied men around the world in celebrating International Women’s Day.  This annual event is a global day to celebrate the economic, political, and social achievements of women past, present and future. 

This year’s theme for International Women’s Day, “Equal Rights, Equal Opportunities: Progress for All” is an important reminder that we as a society cannot progress without the inclusion of fifty percent of our population.  Yet, despite a century of progress since the first International Women’s Day in 1911, women and girls with and without disabilities around the world continue to confront inequities.  In too many countries, fewer girls than boys attend school, fewer women than men participate in the parliaments of their countries, and women still struggle for economic equity. These challenges are further compounded for women and girls with disabilities.  Women and girls with disabilities face widespread discrimination, human rights abuses, and marginalization in employment, health, education and political settings. 

 “When gender and disability intersect, it is women and girls with disabilities who are twice excluded and twice marginalized,” says Judy Heumann, Director of Disability Services for the Government of the District of Columbia.  “They are left behind in the struggle for disability rights because the disability community does not always include the gender-specific concerns of women and girls.  And they are left behind in the struggle for gender equality because the gender community does not always include the concerns of women and girls with disabilities.  We cannot tackle the many challenges that confront us as a global community, such as poverty, human rights, natural disaster, public health, and universal access to education, without the full participation of all women and all girls.  That has to include women and girls who have disabilities.  A world that leaves behind women and girls with disabilities is a world that will not progress.”

USICD believes that the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) is an important tool for promoting the needs and concerns of women and girls with disabilities.  The full implementation of the CRPD can help ensure that women and girls with disabilities are not forgotten in wider efforts to promote equal rights and equal opportunities for all women and girls.  The CRPD, an international human rights treaty, helps guide governments and leaders in the movement for gender equality on a wide range of issues of concern to all people with disabilities.  Such issues include equal access to health, education, adequate standard of living, the right to be free of abuse and violence, and the right to be free from discrimination in employment.  Article 6 in the CRPD explicitly recognizes that women and girls with disabilities are “subject to multiple discrimination.”  It calls for governments to take steps to ensure the empowerment of women so they can fully enjoy their human rights. To date, 144 nations have signed the CRPD, including the United States.

The United States International Council on Disabilities (USICD) is a broad federation of US-based non-governmental organizations, federal agencies and individuals committed to advocacy and action on behalf of the global disability rights agenda. USICD is part of a community of American disability organizations that supports U.S. ratification of the CRPD as a means to broaden protection of the inherent rights of persons with disabilities around the world.

To learn more about USICD and to find helpful resources on the CRPD and disability-inclusive international development, please visit our newly updated and accessible website: http://www.usicd.org

To read the full text of Article 6 in the CRPD on women with disabilities, consult http://www.un.org/disabilities/default.asp?id=266