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EDF Women's Voice Newsletter | Issue 29 | November 2021
Women's Voice is about you! It is a way to share and receive updates on gender equality, women's rights and rights of women and girls with disabilities in Europe. Send us your news, events, calls for action and any other relevant news items to include in this newsletter to:

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Dear sisters and colleagues, 

This month newsletter is finally reaching you with some delay, but early enough to inform you about upcoming events around the International Day on the Elimination of Violence Against Women. Stay tuned on EDF's website and social media for our communication on the 25th of November. 

In the meantime we welcome you to register to upcoming events advertised in our Europe section and calendar. You can already sign up to attend our joint event on trafficking of women and girls with disabilities on the 1st of December. 

We also inform you about the session of the UN Committee on Women's Rights, the findings from the Gender Equality Index 2021 and Safety Guides for women with disabilities. We also invite you to read about mental health from our Board member Jolijn Santegoeds (more in EDF's Disability Voice newsletter). 

Is there something you would like to see featured in the next Women's Voice? Contact us! 

In solidarity and sisterhood, 


Marine Uldry
Human Rights Officer
European Disability Forum | nothing about us without us -




Take-away from the 80th session of the UN Women's Committee

The 80th session of the UN Committee on Elimination of Discrimination Against Women took place from 18th October to 12th November 2021 in Geneva, Switzerland. 

The Committee adopted reports following the evaluation Ecuador, Egypt, Indonesia, Kyrgyzstan, Maldives, Russian Federation, South Africa, South Sudan, Sweden and Yemen, which were considered during the session.

The documents adopted during the sessions, as well as statements delivered in the opening and closing are available on the webpage of the Committee.

The Committee Chairperson said the Committee was deeply concerned about the dramatic situation of women and girls in Afghanistan. It was therefore crucial that the Committee decided to request an exceptional report on their situation, at an opportune time, and that they established an informal Committee task force to consider the impact of the evolving political, economic and social situation in Afghanistan on the rights of women and girls in the country.

Concluding observations on Sweden

In the review of Sweden, the Committee raised concerns about the following issues related to women and girls with disabilities:

  • general lack of information on the situation of women with disabilities
  • low participation in the labour market of (...) women with disabilities
  • insufficient consideration of health needs of women with disabilities and difficulties to access sexual and reproductive health services and information 
  • overall lack of disaggregated data including on gender-based violence against women and girls, on girls with disabilities who completed school, vocational and university education

Specificially on women with disabilities, the Committee recommended to Sweden to: 

  • Address intersecting forms of discrimination against women and girls with disabilities and ensure their inclusion and access to all rights under the Convention, including by eliminating restrictions on their legal capacity, ensuring their access to justice, protection from gender-based violence, inclusive education, employment and health services, including sexual and reproductive health and rights, and addressing their specific needs;
  • Ensure that all women and girls with disabilities are able to access the labour market, give their free and informed consent to decide where and with whom they choose to live, and access all support services available to victims of gender-based violence.

Read the Concluding observations on Sweden. 

Read a summary of the 80th session.


Gender Equality Index 2021

The European Institute on Gender Equality published its 2021 Gender Equality Index on 28th of October 2021. The EU scores 68 points out of 100 in the Gender Equality Index. This is a microscopic increase of just 0.6 points since last year’s edition. 

The Gender Equality Index score provides information on gender equality in all 27 EU Member States in several areas (such as work, health, money and power). Most data is disaggregated by disability. The Index also provides information on how well the EU does on average. 

Health, disability and gender equality 

This year Gender Equality Index 2021 report focused on health. It includes more than 100 references to disability. 

About 7% of women and 6% of men with disabilities report unmet needs for medical services in the EU, but the levels are much higher in Estonia (29 % of women and 23 % of men), Romania (25 % of women and 23 % of men) and Greece (25 % of women and 22 % of men). In Denmark, Sweden, Hungary, Bulgaria, the Netherlands and Luxembourg, among those with disabilities, men are more likely than women to report unmet medical needs.

The most common reason cited for unmet healthcare needs is cost. Women are more likely to mention finances as an obstacle to seeking healthcare, with 33% of women and 29% of men saying that they cannot afford it (44). Women and men with disabilities and women with a low level of education are more likely than others to have little income because they either are not in paid work or are in precarious jobs (EIGE, 2017b).

Lack of accessibility is another issue that affect access to health by persons with disabilities. Older adults with disabilities and those living in rural areas experience difficulties in accessing appropriate transport to get to their medical healthcare providers (Gibson and O’Connor, 2010). Physical or structural barriers make it difficult for women with disabilities, especially when they live in rural areas, to access healthcare services, and as a result they may be dissuaded from attending screening for cervical or breast cancer (Ramjan et al., 2016). Furthermore, people with disabilities may have poor access to health promotion and disease prevention initiatives. This results in women with disabilities being less likely to receive screening for breast and cervical cancer than women without disabilities, and men with disabilities are less likely to be screened for prostate cancer (WHO and World Bank, 2011).

Access the full report.

Other areas 

On average in the EU: 
  • Less women with disabilities are in full time employment. 20% of women with disabilities are in full time employment comparing to 29% of men with disabilities, 48% of women without disabilities and 64% of men without disabilities. Comparing to the 2020 Index, the percentage of women with disabilities in full time employment of decreased (by -0,6 point) while the one of men with disabilities increased (by +0,5 point). 
  • Women with disabilities continue to have a lower mean equivalised net income. It is of 16.822 eur/year comparing to 17.746 for men with disabilities, 20.100 for women without disabilities and 20.935 for men without disabilities. 
  • Women with disabilities are graduating less from university. 15% of women with disabilities graduate from tertiary education, comparing to 17% of men with disabilities, 30% of women without disabilities and 28% of men without disabilities. This is less than the 2020 Index with a decrease of -0,2 points for women with disabilities and -0,5 point for men with disabilities. 
Consult the Gender Equality Index 2021. 

Safety Guides for Women with Disabilities

No means no text surounded by women with disabilities of different age, disability, ethnicity, gender expression, size
Garance Asbl is pleased to introduce their safety guides made with and for women with disabilities. The safety guides include information on violence against women with disabilities, their rights with respect to EU and national law, existing support services and tools for their autonomy and safety. They are available in different languages (English, German, French and Polish) and in different accessible versions.

There are printed versions, screenreader accessible versions, video versions and audiodescription ones, in all 4 languages. 

You can find the safety guides available for download on Garance's website.

Upcoming events

Combating violence against women in a digital age - utilising the Istanbul Convention

At its 25th Meeting, the Group of Experts on Action against Violence against Women and Domestic Violence (GREVIO) adopted its first General Recommendation on the digital dimension of violence against women. Encouraged by anonymity and automation, online and technology-facilitated violence against women is pervasive and many forms of violence occurring offline are replicated, and even intensified, through digital means. To raise awareness on this extremely topical issue, a launching event is organised by the Violence against Women Division of the Council of Europe on Wednesday 24 November 2021.

The event will feature a presentation of the General Recommendation by GREVIO President as well as interventions by the Commissioner for Human Rights, the Chair of the Committee of the Parties to the Istanbul Convention and the Council of Europe Director-General of Democracy. A panel discussion will take place and give an opportunity for speakers to showcase the General Recommendation’s reach and relevance in relation to the work conducted in the field as well as highlight some of the most promising practices.

More information and registration.

Women and girls with disabilities in the face of trafficking and sexual exploitation

On 1st of December, EDF and the CERMI Women’s Foundation will host a webinar on Women and girls with disabilities in the face of trafficking and sexual exploitation. The event will inform participants on the relevant instruments and policies to combat trafficking and sexual exploitation in women and girls with disabilities. It will also present exchange of best practices and current state of play in Spain.

The webinar will be conducted and moderated by Ana Peláez Narváez, EDF Vice-President and Executive Vice-President of CERMI Women’s Foundation. Speakers include representatives from EDF and CERMI Women’s Foundation, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on trafficking in persons, the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), President of the Council of Europe’s Group of Experts on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings, EU Anti-Trafficking Coordinator and representatives from the Spanish justice system.

More information and registration.

No Means No 

On December 3, the Day of Persons with Disabilities, Garance Asbl is organising with its partners an accessible virtual conference “NO MEANS NO - Women with disabilities resist violence”. 

This conference seeks to set violence against women with disabilities and feminist self-defence on the European agenda, to inform European decision makers about policy gaps and good practices, as well as to provide a space to women with disabilities for self-advocacy. Register to the virtual conference. For more information, contact

Both the safety guides (available above) and the conference are part of the European project NO MEANS NO for the primary prevention of violence against women with disabilities through feminist self-defence. The project brings together seven partner organisations from Belgium, France, Germany and Poland.

EDF Disability Voice Newsletter on Mental Health

This month, read about mental health, through an extract of the introduction of our Disability Voice Newsletter of October written by Jolijn Santegoeds, EDF Board member. 

Welcome to the Disability voice newsletter.

As EDF’s board member on behalf of the European Network of Users, ex-users and Survivors of Psychiatry (ENUSP), it is an honor to introduce you to this edition of the Disability Voice which is dedicated to the theme of mental health.

We find ourselves in crucial times…

The sound of an alarm bell

The COVID pandemic is affecting the world, and the need for psychosocial support is visible in all parts of the community, from youngsters to the elderly, from women and girls to migrants, from persons with disabilities to entrepreneurs. Mental health affects us all, and the pandemic has brought this to the spotlight.

With sadness we note that suffering has increased tremendously in virtually all layers of the community. Barriers have become higher to obtain the right type of support, and the most vulnerable people with psychosocial disabilities became even more vulnerable, such as homeless people, children, persons in institutions, or people with high or complex support needs. Inside psychiatric hospitals, the situation has worsened due to lockdowns, confinement of patients and sobriety by stripping of so-called ‘non-essential services’. Locked doors, understaffing, over medication and neglect are still mainstream features across Europe in institutions. In many places, the monitoring of services has stopped due to COVID regulations. Overall, it gives the impression that “mental hospitals” have lapsed even further into the past century, and have become hidden places of deep suffering again.

The increased suffering at present times rings like an alarm bell. The provision of psychosocial support cannot be postponed any longer.

Calls and consultations

UN Committee on the rights of persons with disabilities Special Rapporteur on violence against women, its causes and consequences

Grant opportunities 

Lead 2030 Challenge to Reduce Inequalities

Deadline Date: 15-Dec-2021

Donor Name: One Young World

Grant Size: $10,000 to $100,000

Category: Awards, Prizes and Challenges

Asahi is proud to support the Lead 2030 Challenge for SDG 10, to reduce inequalities within and among countries, with a focus on women’s rights and representation.

One Young World have partnered with the LEAD Network to help to help them increase the representation of women in the company. The Challenge aims to connect with and support solutions that positively impact the wellbeing and future of vulnerable women in society by supporting and enabling them to feel like they belong through greater inclusion and representation in their community.

More information.

Open call for Leadership Accelerator for empowering Women in Digital Journalism

Deadline Date: 30-Nov-2021
Donor Name: Online News Association
Grant Size: Not Available

Applications for the Women’s Leadership Accelerator Program is now open to provide connections, training and practical tools to women though their intensive, cohort-based program and through workshops, trainings and events aimed at the broader journalism community.
The Women’s Leadership Accelerator offers an intensive program of mentoring, discussion and learning from some of the top minds in digital media. Participants work closely with mentors on challenges unique to their careers and also receive support and coaching from Online News Association (ONA) throughout the year.

More information.

Urgent Action Fund for Women's Human Rights

Need some small, flexible, rapid response grant to support your activism? The Urgent Action Fund for Women's Human Rights (UAF) is an intersectional feminist activist fund that makes response grants of up to US$8,000 to women and trans/queer/non-binary human rights defenders, including those with disabilities, and their organisations when they face unexpected security threats because of their activism or unanticipated advocacy opportunities. Supporting mainly groups that are under-resourced, they do not require official registration and can fund informal and unregistered groups, as well as individual activists in North America, Europe, Central Asia, the Middle East. Its Sister Funds  make grants in AfricaLatin America and the Caribbean, and Asia and the Pacific.

You can learn more about UAF on their website and apply for a grant on this webpage. For further information, please contact Elsa Saade ( 

Calendar 2021



18 October-12 November: 80th session of the UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women 

23 November: Femmes pour le Dire, Femmes pour Agir - Sortir du silence (in Paris, France)

24 November: French National Assembly's Delegation for Women's Rights - Symposium on the occasion of the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women (in Paris, France)

24 NovemberCombating violence against women in a digital age - utilising the Istanbul Convention

25 November: International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women


1 December: Webinar on trafficking against women and girls with disabilities

1 December: EDF Women's Committee meeting  

2-3 December: European Days of Persons with Disabilities Conference 

3 December: No Means No virtual conference 

6 December: EWL event on disability and sexual and reproductive health and rights 

The European Disability Forum is an independent NGO that defends the rights of over 100 million Europeans with disabilities. EDF is a unique platform which brings together representative organisation of persons with disabilities from across Europe. EDF is run by persons with disabilities and their families. We are a front runner for disability rights. We are a strong, united voice of persons with disabilities in Europe.

Visit EDF website

Funded by the European Union

Copyright © 2021 European Disability Forum, All rights reserved.

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Director of publication: Marine Uldry

This EDF Mailing is issued in English, and is addressed to EDF Members and allies. Readers are invited to reproduce the information provided the source is quoted and that the confidential nature of the information is respected. Please note that EDF cannot be held responsible for the content of external websites.
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