Disability Voice


No woman or girl with disability must be left out

Ana Pelaez, Chair of EDF Women's CommitteeThis year’s celebration of International Women’s Day on 8 March comes as a new opportunity for the European Union (EU) to take action against violence against women: The European Commission has declared 2017 the European Year of focused action to combat violence against women and girls.
There are 46 million women and girls with disabilities in Europe, representing 60% of the overall population of persons with disabilities. Women and girls with disabilities are 2 to 5 times more likely to experience violence than non-disabled women and are often subjected to sterilisation and abortions against their will. In Spain, where I come from, around 20% of all women who lose their lives as a result of gender-based violence every year, have a disability.

Women and girls with disabilities are often excluded from policies aimin at providing assistance and recovery for women who are victims of violence. Another crucial issue is the accessibility of these services.

Violence and abuse of women and girls with disabilities is often linked with forced sterilisation. In so many cases, women and girls with disabilities are succumbed to sterilisation without their consent or without them having access to information on what is being done to them. If they are even deprived of the legal capacity, they cannot decide for themselves; it’s a family member or their guardians who decide for them. Forced sterilisation leaves women and girls with disabilities even more exposed to sexual abuse and rape. Accessing justice to report the perpetrators or seek remedies is also impossible for them, if they have been deprived of their legal capacity.

The EU and all its Member States -except Ireland- have ratified the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UN CRPD). Under article 6 of the CRPD, they are obliged to “take measures to ensure the full and equal enjoyment of all human rights and fundamental freedoms by women and girls with disabilities”.

The European Disability Forum (EDF) together with other 24 sister organisations including the European Women’s Lobby, have been calling on the EU to ratify rapidly the Istanbul Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence

No woman or girl with disability must be left out!

Ana Peláez 
Chair of EDF Women’s Committee
Member of the UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities


Rise up against violence!


Sign today for a safe Europe for all women and girls!

Banner showing hands holding the symbols of peace and women

The European Disability Forum (EDF) together with the European Women's Lobby, AGE Platfrom Europe, COFACE Families Europe, Mental Health Europe, the European Network of Migrant Women and other civil society organisations, are supporting a petition against violence against women. We are calling on the Council of the European Union Justice Ministers to urgently ratify and implement broadly the Istanbul Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence. Europe should take concrete action to protect all women and girls, including women and girls with disabilities, from violence and to fight this pervasive human rights violation.

You can sign the petition here!

Other news 

Accessibility? Act!

Activists during the demonstration holding a banner that says "Nothing About Us WIthout Us"

On 6 March 2017, the European Disability Forum (EDF), its members and other civil society organisations demonstrated in front of the European Parliament and called on Parliamentarians to promote a strong and effective European Accessibility Act. Millions of people in Europe are still excluded from using basic products and services that are taken for granted for other people, such as withdrawing money from a cash machine, entering a bank or any public building, using the metro, issuing a ticket, using a computer, calling a friend, watching TV, using a washing machine...

The European Parliament is currently discussing the European Commission’s proposal for the European Accessibility Act, a law that could make several products and services in the European Union accessible for all citizens including 80 million persons with disabilities and 190 million people aged 50 and older. However, the draft report of the Committee on Internal Market and Consumer Protection (IMCO Committee) of the European Parliament is watering down the proposal for the Act to such an extent that fundamentally important parts may be lost.

Read more about our demonstration here

The inclusive Europe we want

Banner showing people demonstrating for democracy and human rights

On Europe’s 60th anniversary, we call on European leaders to show leadership, vision and courage to set Europe on the path to a sustainable future which realises the rights of all people and respects planetary boundaries.

On 25 March 2017, Heads of State or Government and the Presidents of the European institutions will come together in Rome to mark the 60th anniversary of the signature of the Treaties of Rome, which laid the foundations for the European Union (EU) we know today.

The European Disability Forum (EDF) calls on the leaders of the European institutions and Member States to reaffirm their commitment to the vision of a European Union that:
  • promotes, protects and ensures the civil, political, social, cultural and economic rights of everyone,
  • promotes democratic participation of civil society in its decision making processes,
  • sees persons with disabilities and their families as an integral part of a sustainable and thriving Europe.
Read more about the #EuropeWeWant here

Equal opportunities to work 

Participants of the conference in Malta

Work and employment have a huge impact in our lives and are linked to the ability to live independently and make our own choices in life. According to Eurostat, more than half of the population of persons with disabilities in the European Union (EU) are unemployed.

In fact, experts who took part in our conference on 18 February 2017 in Malta stated that these Eurostat figures are too optimistic as many people with disabilities who are unemployed are totally invisible from the statistics.

Women with disabilities even face multiple discrimination both on the grounds of their gender and disability. EDF Women’s Committee Chair, Ana Peláez, underlined that for every four jobs made available to persons with disabilities in Spain, only one is for women, and women with disabilities are often in the most poorly paid, insecure jobs.

Read more about the discussions at the conference on inclusive employment here

Following the discussions of the conference, EDF Board adopted a resolution calling on the EU and its Member States to take concrete action to promote employment of persons with disabilities. 

Save the date

28 March 2017

Poster of the event showing a refugee family - one of the kids is in wheel chairRefugees with disabilities - overlooked, underserved

The European Disability Forum (EDF), together with the Vice-Chair of the Disability Intergroup at the European Parliament, MEP Brando Benifei, and Human Rights Watch (HRW), is pleased to invite you to participate in a hearing on the topic of refugees with disabilities: ‘Refugees and asylum-seekers with disabilities: Overlooked and underserved’. The meeting will take place at the European Parliament in Brussels on 28 March 2017 at 10.00 - 12.30. During the hearing, Nujeen Mustafa, a Syrian refugee with disability, will share her recent experience, and the European Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management, Christos Stylianides, will give the audience an insight into the work of the European Commission on migration.

6 April 2017


EU implementation of the UN Convention

The Disability Intergroup of the European Parliament will meet on 6 April from 08.30 to 10.00 at the European Parliament in Strasbourg. The discussion will focus on the implementation of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UN CRPD) by the European Union (EU), as a follow up to the European Parliament resolution on this topic in July 2016.

Editor: Lila Sylviti
Contributors: Etienne Cuche | Marie Denninghaus | Loredana Dicsi | An-Sofie Leenknecht | Laura Marchetti | Alejandro Moledo | Catherine Naughton | Marion Steff | Ernesto Zaccaria 

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