Making it Work initiative on gender and disability inclusion

Making it Work initiative on gender and disability inclusion: Advancing equity for women and girls with disabilities

At least 1 billion women and men, girls and boys in the world have a disability. Women and girls with disabilities endure violence, abuse and exploitation twice as often as non-disabled women, over a longer period of time, and experience more serious injuries as a result of violence. Violence against women and girls is one of the most pervasive and harmful manifestations of gender inequality.

Worldwide, women and girls with disabilities experience higher rates of gender-based violence, sexual abuse, neglect, maltreatment and exploitation than women without disabilities including: forced sterilization, rape, being denied the right to a family, physical and sexual violence from a wide range of actors 1. In addition, women and girls with disabilities face extreme/significant barriers in escaping violence, reporting crimes and accessing justice. The extensive physical, attitudinal and communication barriers women and girls with disabilities face including: social stigma and isolation, discriminatory practices based on gender and disability, inaccessible physical environments, lack of accessible communication, myths about perceived asexuality, lack of access to education and reproductive health services all reduce their options for a just and compassionate response to prevent and eliminate violence, abuse and exploitation of women and girls with disabilities. Violations occur in homes and institutions, perpetrated by family members, neighbors, teachers, and caretakers. In some settings, it may even include state-sanctioned reproductive rights violations such as forced sterilization.

Handicap International started the Making It Work Initiative (hereinafter the MIW Initiative) in 2014, bringing together local and global experts on disability and gender. This MIW initiative builds on the broader Making it Work initiative, started by Handicap International in 2008 to propose a methodology aimed at capturing good practices to make the rights of persons with disabilities work in practice. A Gender and Disability Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) was set up in January 2014. During its first meeting it decided to focus its work on ending violence against women and girls with disabilities, jointly with Handicap International.

This initiative acknowledges the vulnerability of women and girls with disabilities to gender and disability-based violence and the lack of documented good practices on inclusive responses and their strengths to address it. On this ground, the MIW Initiative seeks to increase the visibility of women and girls with disabilities within international development, human rights, gender and humanitarian action to ensure that their voices and concerns are heard on how to respond to violence, abuse and exploitation throughout the world.

International call for good practices

In May 2014, the TAC launched an international call for good practices that have successfully addressed or shown progress in preventing, eliminating or responding to violence, exploitation and abuse against women and girls with disabilities.

6 is a global concern. The international community h

Selection process

The TAC reviewed 30 proposals submitted in response to the international call. Ten good practices and one emerging practice were selected based on their potential to raise awareness, inform global advocacy initiatives, and build the capacity of women and girls with and without disabilities, their organizations and womens’ rights organisations across the globe. The key findings of the documented good practices were further used to inform key international advocacy initiatives. For instance, the project organised and participated in the 59th session of the Commission on the Status of Women where members of the TAC and some of the good practice holders presented their issues and shared their experience. Furthermore, in June 2015 the project hosted in New York the first global Gender and Disability Forum, which allowed the participants to the MIW Initiative to exchange on their experiences and identify common challenges, which were translated into key recommendations targetting States, UN agencies, women’s rights organisations, as well as Disabled People's Organisations.

The side event, organised by the MIW Initiative at the Conference of States Parties to the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), allowed the speakers to share those key messages by illustrating the experience of all the good practices.

According to the main issues addressed by the local and grassroots organizations, the TAC grouped the practices around three broad themes:

·         Legal advocacy and policy change

·         Awareness raising

·         Empowerment.

This report presents the key findings of this initiative according to those three j
, efforts at the international level.