2018 World Autism Awareness Day observance: "Empowering Women and Girls with Autism"

Thursday, 5 April 2018
Economic and Social Council Chamber, United Nations Headquarters

Download the programme PDF document

In November 2017, the United Nations General Assembly adopted a resolution drawing attention to the particular challenges that women and girls with disabilities face in the context of the implementation of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD). The resolution expresses concern that women and girls with disabilities, are subject to multiple and intersecting forms of discrimination, which limit their enjoyment of all human rights and fundamental freedoms.

The 2018 World Autism Awareness Day observance at United Nations Headquarters New York focused on the importance of empowering women and girls with autism and involving them and their representative organizations in policy and decision making to address these challenges.

Girls with disabilities are less likely to complete primary school and more likely to be marginalized or denied access to education. Women with disabilities have a lower rate of employment than men with disabilities and women without disabilities. Globally, women are more likely to experience physical, sexual, psychological and economic violence than men, and women and girls with disabilities experience gender-based violence at disproportionately higher rates and in unique forms owing to discrimination and stigma based on both gender and disability. As a result of inaccessibility and stereotyping, women and girls with disabilities are persistently confronted with barriers to sexual and reproductive health services and to information on comprehensive sex education, particularly women and girls with intellectual disabilities including autism.

Through dynamic moderated discussions with experts and advocates, the observance examined the particular challenges that women and girls with autism face in this context.

Below you will find videos of all the statements and panel discussions at the event.

10:00 a.m.       Welcome and Opening

10:10 a.m.       Ableism, Sexism, Racism… How They Intersect

  • Moderator: Jeffrey Brez, Chief, NGO Relations, Advocacy & Special Events, United Nations
  • Morénike Giwa-Onaiwu, Autism and Race Committee Chair, Autism Women’s Network
  • Amy Gravino, Autism Consultant and College Coach, A.S.C.O.T Consulting
  • Saima Wazed Hossain, WHO Goodwill Ambassador for Autism in South-East Asia Region
  • Prof. Jonas Ruškus, Member, UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities

10:30 a.m.       Keynote Address

  • Julia Bascom, Executive Director, Autistic Self Advocacy Network

10:55 a.m.       “Please Stand By” – Women with Autism in Film (Pt. I)

  • Moderator: Elaine Hall, Founder and Creative Director, The Miracle Project
  • Lara Alameddine, Producer
  • Domonique Brown, Miracle Project member
  • Dakota Fanning, Actress
  • Michael Golamco, Writer
  • Ben Lewis, Director
  • Brittanie Sanders, Miracle Project member

11:15 a.m.       Gender Disparity in Diagnosis: Causes and Consequences

  • Moderator: Jeffrey Brez, Chief, NGO Relations, Advocacy & Special Events, United Nations
  • Hadas Arnon Sharabi, Attorney, ALUT - Israeli Society for Children and Adults with Autism
  • Dr. Helen Egger, Chair, Department of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, NYU Langone Medical Center
  • Beth Finkelstein, Executive Director, Felicity House
  • Sarai Pahla, Medical Doctor, Translator and Self-Advocate, South Africa

11:40 a.m.       Heightened Risk – Violence, Sexual Exploitation and Abuse

  • Moderator: Sophie Browne, Policy Analyst, UN Women
  • Mallory Cruz, Blogger,
  • Sharon daVanport, Executive Director, Autism Women’s Network
  • Dena Gassner, Member, Board of Directors, The Arc; PhD Candidate, Adelphi University
  • Prof. Rannveig Traustadóttir, Director, Centre for Disability Studies, University of Iceland

12:05 p.m.       “Keep the Change” – Women with Autism in Film (Pt. II)

  • Moderator: Heidi Landis, Psychotherapist licensed in Creative Arts Therapy
  • Samantha Elisofon, Actress
  • Rachel Israel, Director
  • Aubrie Therrien, Executive Artistic Director, Epic Players

12:25 p.m.      The four “E”s: Education, Employment and Economic Empowerment

  • Moderator: Tara Cunningham, CEO, Specialisterne
  • Tara Curry, Contractor, NY Financial Firm
  • Joanna Grochowska, Vice President, SYNAPSIS, Poland
  • Rachel Wilson, Student, Mercyhurst University

12:50 p.m.       Closing Remarks

The event is organized by the United Nations Department of Public Information and Department of Economic and Social Affairs, with support from UN Women

Co-sponsored by the Permanent Missions of Argentina, Bangladesh, Bulgaria, Denmark, Israel, Italy, Kazakhstan and Poland

Download the programme PDF document