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EDF Women's Voice Newsletter | Issue 24 | May 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 in EDF Women's Voice we are pleased to share with you a Policy Brief on Disability consideration for the COVID-19 vaccination (which include a gender perspective), new report and resources on the Istanbul Convention to combat violence against women and girls, and two online workshops that may interest you.

We also remind you that the consultation of the European Commission on gender-based violence closes on Monday 10th of May. We are aiming to publish a position paper on violence against women and girls with disabilities on that day. Consult EDF's website on the 10th for more information, and to include the perspectives of women and girls with disabilities in your reply to the consultation. 

In solidarity and sisterhood, 


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




WHO & UNICEF Policy Brief: Disability considerations for COVID-19 vaccination

The World Health Organisation and UNICEF published a Policy Brief on Disability consideration for the COVID-19 vaccination, based on the WHO SAGE roadmap for prioritising uses of COVID-19 vaccines in the context of limited supply and Guidance on developing a national deployment and vaccination plan for COVID-19 vaccines.

The Brief explains that the experience of COVID‑19 for women and girls with disabilities is shaped by both gender- and disability-related factors. Gender-related barriers reduce access to health care, testing and vaccination for women and girls. 

It recommends in particular: 
  • Actions for governments:
    • Consider persons with disabilities according to WHO guidance when prioritising sociodemographic groups for initial phases of immunization. Prioritise older persons with disabilities and persons with disabilities with relevant underlying health conditions, and consider staff working for disability support services when prioritising frontline workers in health and social care settings. 
    • Include persons with disabilities, including those living in residential institutions, in estimations of different target populations. Estimates may already exist through census data and national disability surveys; or the global estimate (15% of any population having some form of disability) could be used. It is important to note that the prevalence of disability may be higher in humanitarian contexts, as well as among women and older persons.
    • Conduct discussion groups with women, men, and gender-divers persons with disabilities which can be held online and in physically distanced settings, to share information in local languages, including sign languages, and answer specific questions. Consider other information channels that may be accessed by those who are isolated in their home.
  • Action for organisations of persons with disabilities: 
    • Establish a strategy to ensure that women, men, and people of diverse gender identities, of different ages and different types of disabilities are represented in any advocacy on vaccination against COVID‑19. Consider
      that vaccination activities, as well as the barriers faced, will vary among rural and urban settings, and among migrant populations and displaced persons.
  • Action for the community
    • Address negative attitudes and assumptions which could lead to discrimination towards persons with disabilities during the vaccination phase. Discuss and challenge gender stereotypes that could lead families to deprioritise women, girls, and gender-diverse persons with disabilities for health care and vaccination.

Online workshop on using the UN Optional Protocols to defend the rights of women and girls with disabilities

The International Disability Alliance and the European Disability Forum co-organise an online workshop on the 10th of May (2:00 to 3:30 pm CET) on using the Optional Protocols of UN Treaties to defend the rights of women and girls with disabilities. 

Several international human rights treaties protect the rights of women and girls with disabilities, such as the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) and the UN Convention on Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW). These Conventions are complemented by agreements called Optional Protocols. They establish individual complaints mechanism for individuals or groups of individuals who have seen their rights violated in their country.

This online workshop will inform participants on the role and functioning of the Optional Protocols, as tools to defend the rights of women and girls with disabilities.

Speakers will include representatives and legal experts from the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, the International Disability Alliance, the International Women’s Right Actions Watch Asia Pacific and Validity Foundation. The workshop will be introduced and moderated by Ana Pelaez Narvaez, Vice President of the European Disability Forum and member of the CEDAW Committee.

More information and registration to the workshop.


Istanbul Convention: combating violence against women


Website 10 years of the Istanbul Convention

To celebrate the 10th year anniversary of the Istanbul Convention on combating violence against women and girls, the Council of Europe launched a new website on the Convention. It inclues: 
Photo of Ana Pelaez Narvaez EDF Vice President of EDF and quote "The Istanbul Convention is a hopeful response to the desperate call for support by women and girls with disabilities who, for the first time, were included in an instrument which specifically protects them and criminalises forced abortion and forced sterilisation to which they are frequently subjected."

EWL Report on the Istanbul Convention

The European Women's Lobby launched the report “Towards a Europe Free from Male Violence Against Women and Girls” to mark the 10th anniversary of the Istanbul Convention

This report sets out to analyse the achievements made to date across countries that have ratified the Convention. It is a call for all EU Member States to recognise the Convention’s added-value in protecting and promoting EU fundamental values, including equality between women and men, and to champion its implementation across the region to ensure a Europe free from violence. 

The report also gives specific information on how to adequately response to multiple forms of discrimination against women and girls, including based on disability (see page 24 of the report). 

Letter from 13 organisations from the European Coalition to End Violence Against Women and Girls

EDF along with 12 other organisations from the European Coalition to End Violence Against Women and Girls signed a letter to the heads of the EU institutions on the President of Turkey’s Decision and Poland’s actions to withdraw from the Istanbul Convention. Read the letter. 

Last days to participate in EU consultation on violence against women

Earlier this year the European Commission launched an important consultation on violence against women and combatting gender-based violence. The consultation aims at assessing the legislation combatting violence against women and measures taken to support victims and punish offenders. It is available in all languages of the EU Member States. 

You can find the questionnaire on the website of the European Commission - the deadline to participate in is the 10th of May

EDF is currently preparing a position paper on violence against women and girls with disabilities in the EU (to be published on the 10th). Do not hesitate to send information, or get in touch with us if you are planning to submit information on women and girls with disabilities. 

Free online self-defence workshops for women with physical disabilities 

The Belgian organisation Garance asbl organises free online self-defence workshops for women with physical disabilities, as part of their "No means No" European project. 

There are several dates to choose from 17 May (in English) or 10 May, 18 May or 29 May (in French). They will take place rom 9.30am to 12pm CET. 

Banner wih drawing of different women with physical disabilities from different backgrounds with written in French "En ligne, Atelier d'autodéfense pour femmes en situation de handicap moteur, dans le cadre du projet européen No means no" Garance
Even if women with disabilities are between 2 and 10 times more exposed to violence than able-bodied women, they are not powerless! 
👉 Want to learn to resist violence and discrimination?
Garance invites you to participate in an online discovery workshop.
📣 Is this workshop for me?
Yes! Feminist self-defence increases self-confidence, self-esteem and strengthens our capacity for individual and collective action in preventing violence.
It is also an opportunity to learn more about your rights and where to find support.
Finally, it is an opportunity to meet other women living with a disability and to exchange on what brings us together and strengthens us in terms of safety, all in a friendly and benevolent atmosphere. 
🙋Can I participate regardless of my disability? 
Yes, if you are a woman with a physical disability or living with a chronic illness that impacts your mobility.
🙋Can I participate regardless of my age? 
There is no age limit (and the workshops are open to women from 16 years old). 
💻What do I need to participate?
You need a computer or tablet with a built-in microphone and camera.
A smartphone may be sufficient, but is not the ideal medium.
Garance will send you a Zoom link for the workshop once we have confirmed your registration. You will need to download the Zoom application in advance ( If you have never participated in an online meeting before, they can do a trial run with you.
📍Registrations or questions?

European Disability Forum

Grant opportunities 

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



10 May: EDF Women's Committee meeting 

10 May: IDA-EDF online workshop on using the UN Optional Protocols to advance the rights of women and girls with disabilities

11 MayConference “Gender equality and the Istanbul Convention: a decade of action"


21 June-9 July: CEDAW Committee session (review of Russia and Spain) 


12-16 July: CEDAW Committee pre-sessional working group (List of issues on Armenia, Estonia, Finland, Georgia, Netherlands) 

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

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Copyright © 2021 European Disability Forum, All rights reserved.

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Director of publication: Marine Uldry

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