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UN Programme on Disability   Working for full participation and equality
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Theme : Gender and Women with Disabilities

Women with disabilities and the five-year review of the Fourth World Conference on Women

During its twenty-third Special Session held in New York from 5-10 June 2000, entitled "Women 2000: gender, equality, development and peace for the 21st Century", the General Assembly reviewed the progress in the implementation of the Nairobi Forward-looking Strategies for the Advancement of Women and the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action[1] adopted by the Fourth World Conference on Women (4-15 September 1995).

The Special Session of the General Assembly adopted a political declaration (resolution S-23/2 of 10 June 2000) and an outcome document entitled “Further actions and initiatives to implement the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action" (General Assembly Resolution S-23/3 of 10 June 2000, annex).[2] The annex is divided into four sections: I) Introduction; II) achievements in and obstacles to the implementation of the Beijing Platform for Action; III) current challenges affecting the full implementation of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action; IV) actions and initiatives to overcome obstacles and to achieve the full and accelerated implementation of the Beijing Platform for Action. Although the resolutions refer to all women, they are relevant to women with disabilities.

Resolution S-23/3 notes that women with disabilities face additional barriers to achieving gender equality and reiterates the need for action at all levels to address and take into consideration their concerns. In its introduction, the resolution states: "The Platform for Action recognizes that women face barriers to full equality and advancement because of such factors as their race, age, language, ethnicity, culture, religion or disability, because they are indigenous women or of other status."[3]

In addition, in section II, discrimination against women with disabilities is identified as an obstacle to the full enjoyment of their human rights and as a barrier to the implementation of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action. The document states: "Gender discrimination and all other forms of discrimination … and related intolerance continue to cause threat to women's enjoyment of their human rights and fundamental freedoms. … Some women and girls continue to encounter barriers to justice and the enjoyment of their human rights because of such factors as their race, language, ethnicity, culture, religion, disability or socio-economic class or because they are indigenous people, migrants, including women migrant workers, displaced women or refugees."[4]

Section IV, which concerns actions and initiatives to overcome obstacles and to achieve the full and accelerated implementation of the Beijing Platform for Action, highlights the fact that "girls and women of all ages with any form of disability are generally among the more vulnerable and marginalized of society. There is therefore need to take into account and to address their concerns in all policy-making and programming. Special measures are needed at all levels to integrate them into the mainstream of development."[5]

Suggested actions, with specific reference to women with disabilities, to be taken at the national level include the following:

"Adopt and promote a holistic approach to respond to all forms of violence and abuse against girls and women of all ages, including girls and women with disabilities, as well as vulnerable and marginalized women and girls in order to address their diverse needs, including education, provision of appropriate health care and services and basic social services."[6]

"Design and implement policies and programmes to address fully specific needs of women and girls with disabilities, to ensure their equal access to education at all levels, including technical and vocational training and adequate rehabilitation programmes, health care and services and employment opportunities, to protect and promote their human rights and, where appropriate, to eliminate existing inequalities between women and men with disabilities.[7]

In addition, the resolution makes various references to mental health as a right and an integral part of the well-being of women and calls for action in this area.


Notes

[1] Report of the Fourth World Conference on Women, Beijing, 4-15 September 1995 (United Nations publication, Sales No. E.96.IV.13). chap. I, resolution 1, annex I. Available from http://www.un.org/womenwatch/daw/beijing/platform/index.html.

[2] Documents of the session are available from http://www.un.org/womenwatch/daw/followup/reports.htm.

[3] General Assembly resolution S-23/3, of 10 June 2000, annex, paragraph 5.

[4] Ibid., para. 27.

[5] Ibid., para. 63.

[6] Ibid., para. 69 (j).

[7] Ibid., para. 83 (d).


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United Nations, 2003-04
Department of Economic and Social Affairs
Division for Social Policy and Development