View this email in your browser
Banner of EDF Women's Voice
EDF Women's Voice Newsletter | Issue 18 | October 2020
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:

You can translate the content of the newsletter in different languages. Click on the button "View this email in your browser" on the right top corner of this email and choose the option "Translate". Should you face any difficulties to access the newsletter, please let us know!

Dear sisters, friends and colleagues, 

This year continues to be challenging for all of us. We hope you are keeping well despites the circumstances. 

In this edition of the Women's Voice, we share with you issues faced by women in psychiatry and the campaign of EDF to combat involuntary treatment and placement. 

In our news section, you can find an interesting grant opportunity, the upcoming launch of a EDF-Sighsavers paper on women with disabilities in the EU and India, and last but definitely not least, information on how to influence the future EU disability rights strategy. 

Make sure to check out our calendar full of new events. You can already register for our webinar on ending violence against women and girls with disabilities on 24th of November. 

In solidarity & sisterhood, 

Marine Uldry 

European Disability Forum | nothing about us without us -


Gender, coercion and psychiatry


Coercion in Europe

Coercion is the act of using force to oblige someone to do something against their will, it is prohibited under international human rights law. Coercion in psychiatry is specifically prohibited by the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities since 2006.

All European countries use coercion in psychiatry by allowing forced detention and treatment on the basis of actual or perceived mental health condition. These practices include isolating, tying people to their beds, forcing people to take medicine and treatment with irreversible effects including electroshocks.

During COVID-19, the number of people forcibly placed and treated in psychiatry has increased. In the United Kingdom and Ireland, mental health laws have been revised to make involuntary placement and treatment easier. In the Netherlands, exceptions to the mental health law have been put in place and it became faster and easier to hospitalise persons against their will. In Belgium, more resources have been requested to deal with the rising numbers of people being involuntarily placed in psychiatry.

Women coerced in psychiatry face additional risks of abuse, ill-treatment, over-medication and death. Research in the United Kingdom has shown that Black and minority ethnic women are 3 to 6 times more likely to be admitted to mental health units than average and more likely to be forcibly admitted. They are also less likely to be admitted to women’s crisis houses and less likely to be referred to talking therapies.

Women killed by psychiatry

Nathalie Dale (1970-2014)

Portrait of Nathalie Dale, in front of the sea, mid long dark hair, dark eyes, smiling

In 2014, after 4 years of forced placement and treatment in a psychiatric hospital of Aix-en-Provence, France, Nathalie Dale died at 43 years old from respiratory failure due to over-medication.

For years, Nathalie went through heavy treatment including tablets and neuroleptic injections in and out the hospital. In 2010, she gave birth to a little girl, who she never had the right to see and be the mother of. Nathalie was placed under strict curatorship until her death. The heavy treatment she was subjected to caused her death.

Andreas Fernandez (1991-2017)

Demonstration in Oviedo for the death of Andreas, April 2017. Group of people holding signs saying "Andreas, te echamos de menos #JusticaporAndres" and "No al maltrato cuerdista, ni una muerte mas en psiquiatria"
Photo: Demonstration in Oviedo for the death of Andreas, April 2017

In April 2017, a 26 year old Spanish woman named Andreas Fernández was suffering from acute tonsillitis (a common inflamation of the back of the throat). She went to a hospital emergency room because she was hearing “noises”. She died 75 hours after being retained in a psychiatric unit against her will.

Andreas was tied to a bed, heavily drugged and died because of a cardiac arrest with injuries to her elbows inflicted while trying to escape from the psychiatric hospital. The noises she was hearing where actually the symptoms of a meningitis, an inflammation of the membranes, surrounding the brain and spinal cord, that was never diagnosed.

This case was denounced to the UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities by the European Network of Survivors and (Ex)-Users of Psychiatry and Mundo Bipolar in 2017. 

Campaigning against coercion in Europe

For years, the Council of Europe, a 47 countries intergovernmental organisation originally created to uphold human rights and the rule of law, has been failing to protect the rights of persons in mental health care.

In 2014 the Council of Europe’s Committee on Bioethics started working on a protocol to “protect the rights of people with mental disorders subject to involuntary treatment and placement in psychiatry” but in reality, the draft protocol allows for more coercion and exclusion.

The Committee on Bioethics is debating how to legally subject people to forced interventions, including isolation, restraints, forced drugging and/or electroshock of people against their will instead of following the latest international human rights standards including the CRPD (ratified by 46 of the 47 Council of Europe members).

EDF and allies have called the Council of Europe and its Member States to withdraw the draft protocol and instead to work on ending coercion in mental health practices. Learn more about our campaign against coercion.



Grant opportunity to participate in Beijing +25 / Generation Equality Forum

Urgent Action Fund recently launched a Beijing +25 Advocacy Grants Program

The grants will aim to amplify the leadership of women and gender diverse communities, including women activists with disabilities, engaging with the Beijing +25/Generation Equality Forum (GEF) process to review and follow-up on the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action on its 25th anniversary. The grants will fund activities from several regions, including Eastern and Western Europe. 

Rather than activists who regularly participate in international UN advocacy, UAF’s Beijing +25 Grant will fund activists with limited experiences with UN global advocacy spaces and some activists who are new to those spaces but find them strategic. 

The deadline to apply is 1st December 2020.

Are you considering applying? Do you have questions? Join UAF info session to learn more and share any questions or feedback on 22nd October. 

Read more information about the Beijing+25 Grant.

Lauching: Joint paper on Mainstreaming Women with Disabilities in India-EU international cooperation

Save the date For the LAUNCH OF  Rising Voices A joint paper on Mainstreaming Women with Disabilities in India-EU international cooperation and SDG Implementation By Sightsavers And European Disability Forum  To be held online on Zoom  3 Pm – 4 PM India time 11:30 – 12:30 Brussels time  29th October, 2020, Thursday  Details of the event will follow soon

The European Disability Forum and Sightsavers have been working on a project on women with disabilities in India-EU international cooperation and implementation of the sustainable development goals (SDGs).

We are pleased to announce that the outcome joint-paper will be launching soon. Save the date for the event on 29th of October, and register here.


The European Disability Rights Agenda (2021-2030) must include women's rights 

The European Commission is currently preparing a new European Disability Strategy for 2020-2021. Women and girls being 60% of the disability population, issues around gender equality and women's rights need to be central to the new Strategy. 

EDF has published specific recommendations on the next Strategy. In relation to women and girls with disabilities we ask that the European Union: 
  • Accede to, fully implement and raise awareness on the Istanbul Convention as a step to combating violence against women and girls with disabilities
  • Mainstream the rights of women and girls with disabilities into the agenda of the High-Level Group on Gender Mainstreaming and Advisory committee on equal opportunities for women and men. Integrate the question of discrimination in the work of the European Institute for Gender Equality, in particular in the field of employment and healthcare, and gender-based violence faced by women with disabilities. Include the disability perspective in all activities related to the Spotlight Initiative on eliminating all forms of violence against women and girls, alongside the UN, and all other projects and programmes targeting women.
  • Study the gender pay gap of women with disabilities in relation to men with disabilities and women without disabilities and take the necessary measures to eliminate the gap.
  • Ensure that legislation, policies and programmes covering sexual harassment in all workplaces, including special employment centres, fully include the rights of women with disabilities, including women under guardianship or with restricted legal capacity.
  • Increase the investment of EU funds in training, employment and job mobility for persons with disabilities, focusing particularly on groups especially at risk of unemployment such as women
  • Establish a mechanism to monitor progress and fund data collection and research on women and girls with disabilities

What can you do to advocate for women's rights in the strategy?  

Participate in the consultation organised by the European Commission! 

The roadmap on the strategy only mentions women once, and does not include actions that specifically address women's issues. You can use our recommendations and submit your points on the website of the European Commission until the 12th of November. If you have any questions or issues doing so, you can contact us. 

We are (still) looking for personal testimonies for our report on COVID-19 

In the 2020 EDF Human Rights Report on COVID-19, EDF would like to show the diversity of direct experiences of persons with disabilities that are part of various socially disadvantaged groups. We are therefore collecting personal testimonies from around Europe. We are looking for people who, due to COVID-19, faced a situation whereby they were discriminated based on being a person with a disability and being a woman, an older person, a child or a parent of a child with disabilities, an LGBTIQ+ person, an asylum seeker or a migrant, or belonging to an ethnic or religious minority.

We are gathering these personal testimonies through an online survey. Although the questionnaire is in English, the testimonies can be written in your own language


Greece: keys issues faced by women and girls with disabilities

In November, the UN Committee on Elimination of Discrimination Against Women will adopt a list of issues for the review of Greece. Our Greek member, the National Confederation of Disabled People of Greece, has prepared an alternative report to raise issues faced by women and girls with disabilities. Among many issues, the report stresses:
  • the lack of measures to prohibit and address multiple and intersectional forms of discrimination and discrimination by association
  • the lack of inclusion of women with disabilities in the National Action Plan on Gender Equality 2016-2020
  • no official strategy in place to prevent all forms of violence, exploitation, and abuse against women
  • very limited participation of women with disabilities in political and public life
  • barriers to access healthcare services, such as sexual and reproductive health services
Read the full alternative report on Greece.

Calls and consultations

European Commission 
Special Rapporteur on violence against women, its causes and consequences
European Disability Forum

Grant opportunities for women and trans/queer/non-binary human rights defenders 

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 (  

2020 Calendar



24 November (online): EDF webinar on violence against women and girls with disabilities 

30 November (online): meeting of EDF Women's Committee (for members of the committee only)


1-2 December (online): European Days of Persons with Disabilities (more information coming soon) 

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 © 2020 European Disability Forum, All rights reserved.

Want to change how you receive these emails?
You can update your preferences or unsubscribe from this list

Director of publication: Marine Uldry
Editor: Naomi Mabita  

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.
Should you wish to make any contribution or notify any e-mail address modification, please do not hesitate to contact: Marine Uldry |