CALL FROM WOMEN ENABLED TO SIGN ON LETTER FOR INCLUSION OF ISSUES OF WOMEN AND GIRLS WITH DISABILITIES IN AGENDA OF CSW 57
Please Read Introduction & Scroll Down to Letter for Requested Sign-On.
Urgent, Please - Sign-On Requested by September 7 Noon US Eastern Time.
Excerpt (See full letter below) -"We, the undersigned human rights, disability rights and women’s rights organizations and individuals, write with respect to the importance of the inclusion of issues of concern to women and girls with disabilities in the agenda of the United Nations Commission on the Status of
Women (CSW), especially as it considers its priority thematic issue on the prevention and elimination of all forms of violence against women at its 57th session in March 2013.)"
I have drafted the below letter to various UN entities and associated individuals involved with The Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) and in the planning for the 57th Session of CSW addressing violence against women. The purpose of this letter is to ensure that issues concerning violence against women and girls with disabilities are addressed and also to ensure that women with disabilities are engaged in leadership roles as CSW policies and program planning proceeds.
At past CSW sessions women with disabilities have not been integrated into the discussions, major official panels and outcomes, other than at side events organized by women with disabilities. Women with disabilities and our issues have not been part of the Expert Group Meetings usually held in September in advance of the CSW session the next February-March. Additionally, the Prepatory Papers rarely include issues of women with disabilities. All this is discussed in greater detail in the leter below.
I am seeking organizations to sign on to this letter, which already has support from other organizations and individuals. Unfortunately, the time frames are very short as the Expert Group Meeting will be held in only a few days in Thailand.
Thus, I am asking you and your organizations to sign on to this letter and/or for other organizations who have representatives on this list to sign on as well.
IMPORTANT: Please sign on by this coming Friday, September 7 at noon U.S. Eastern time so that I have time to assemble all signatories and get the letter to the relevant parties in a timely fashion to have a positive impact.
I hope you can join on this important effort. The text of the letter is below and, unfortunately, it cannot be changed at this point.
Stephanie Ortoleva, Esq.
International Human Rights Lawyer and Consultant
Founder and President, WomenEnabled
International Human Rights Lawyer, Researcher and Consultant
Washington, DC, United States
Check out updates on my website at: www.WomenEnabled.org follow me on Twitter at http://twitter.com/WomenEnabledhttp://ssrn.com/author=1875099 and connect with me on LinkedIn at http://www.linkedin.com/ under Stephanie Ortoleva, for information on human rights, women’s rights and the rights of women with disabilities internationally.
****** Read just-released 228-page Report by Stephanie Ortoleva & Hope Lewis: “Forgotten Sisters - A Report on Violence against Women with Disabilities: & Overview of Its Nature, Scope, Causes & Consequences.” Download the complete report & abstract on the Social Science Research Network website at: http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2133332.
September 1, 2012
Under-Secretary-General of the UN
Executive Director, UN Women
Under-Secretary-General of the UN
Executive Secretary, Economic & Social
Commission for Asia and the Pacific
Under-Secretary-General of the UN
Executive director, UN Population Fund
Marjon V. Kamara
CSW Chair & Ambassador
Mission of the Republic of Liberia to the UN
CSW Vice-Chair & Second Secretary
Mission of the Republic of Belarus to the UN
Ana Marie Hernando
CSW Vice-Chair & Second Secretary
Mission of the Philippines to the UN
Carlos Enrique García González
CSW Vice-Chair & Deputy Representative
Mission of El Salvador to the UN
Filippo Cinti, CSW Vice Chair
First Secretary Mission of Italy to the UN
Exec. Director, Liverpool VCT (Kenya)
Marai Larasi, Co-Chair
End Violence against Women (UK)
Chair, NGO CSW/NY
Dear CSW Leadership & Partners,
We, the undersigned human rights, disability rights and women’s rights organizations and individuals, write with respect to the importance of the inclusion of issues of concern to women and girls with disabilities in the agenda of the United Nations Commission on the Status of
Women (CSW), especially as it considers its priority thematic issue on the prevention and elimination of all forms of violence against women at its 57th session in March 2013.)
Despite the implications for more than 500 million women and girls with disabilities and their families, issues concerning women with disabilities receive only limited, or even invisible, coverage in influential CSW Expert Group Meetings and prepatory papers. There is also scant inclusion of issues concerning women with disabilities in side events at CSW sessions, other than those organized by women with disabilities themselves. CSW can contribute to a more inclusive and effective awareness of violence against all women by welcoming women with disabilities to these discussions
We draw your attention to the just released 228-page Report: Stephanie Ortoleva and Hope Lewis, Forgotten Sisters - A Report on Violence Against Women with Disabilities: An Overview of its Nature, Scope, Causes and Consequences (August 21, 2012). Northeastern University School of Law Research Paper No. 104-2012. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=2133332.
This report, prepared by two international human rights lawyers and a team of law student research assistants, reviews available information on the scope, nature, causes and consequences of violence against women and girls with disabilities, drawing on research by academics, practitioners, women with disabilities, Disabled Peoples Organizations (DPOs), governments and international and regional organizations and discusses significant gaps in the research and makes recommendations for future action. We urgently request that this valuable resource be included as part of the CSW57 preparatory papers to ensure that issues concerning violence against women and girls with disabilities are addressed.
The timing of the issuance of this Report is fortuitous as the Commission on the Status of Women prepares for its 57th Session with the thematic issue of the prevention and elimination of violence against women. As the CSW embarks on its Expert Group Meeting and the development of the associated preparatory papers for CSW 57, it is urgent that women with disabilities have a significant role in these processes. Determining viable policy on the prevention and elimination of violence against women requires the inclusion of all stakeholders, including women with disabilities who are experts on these issues. Drawing on the core principle of “Nothing About Us Without Us” which was an intrinsic element of the drafting of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD,) women with disabilities should be part of these CSW processes.
Situation of Women & Girls with Disabilities Globally: Given how greatly women and girls with disabilities are affected by the double discrimination and gender and disability stereotyping they face because of both gender and disability, they deserve to be heard. There are approximately one billion persons with disabilities in the world, which constitutes 15 percent of the global population The World Health Organization (WHO) and the World Bank (WB) recent (9 June 2011) ground-breaking report entitled “World Report on Disability,” notes a dramatic increase in estimates of the number of persons with disabilities worldwide. There are significant differences in the prevalence of disability between men and women in both developing and more developed countries: male disability prevalence rate is 12% and female disability prevalence rate is 19.2%. 
Violence and Women & Girls with Disabilities: The 2011 Report of the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Violence Against Women focused on the multiple and intersecting forms of discrimination that contribute to and exacerbate violence against women, noting that factors such as ability, age, access to resources, race/ethnicity, language, religion, sexual orientation and class can exacerbate the violence women with disabilities experience. Violence against women and girls with disabilities is perpetrated and/or condoned by the State and private actors within public and private institutions and in the transnational sphere. The forms of violence to which women with disabilities are subjected are varied; physical, psychological, sexual or financial violence, neglect, entrapment, degradation, and forced sterilization and psychiatric treatment. Women with disabilities are twice or three times as likely to experience domestic and other forms of gender-based and sexual violence as non-disabled women, and are likely to experience abuse over a longer period and to suffer more severe injuries as a result of the violence. Their abuser may also be their caregiver, someone that the individual is reliant on for personal care or mobility, frequently they do not report the violence, often lack access to legal protection, law enforcement officials are ill-equipped to address the violence and they are not privy to the same information available to non-disabled women. Sexual and gender-based violence contributes to the incidence of disability among women and girls.
Some other issues which exacerbate violence against women and girls with disabilities, include the following: women with disabilities are the poorest among the poor because of discriminatory employment practices; they are denied educational opportunities because education was not provided for girls, or school facilities were not accessible to them and programs were not designed to meet their needs; they are unable to travel from place to place because of the dangers of violence, which cannot be mitigated because they cannot afford assistive devices like wheelchairs or access transportation systems; they are often the last in the family to receive food because they are viewed as useless, and because they may be too indigent to afford food; they are more likely than men with disabilities or women without disabilities to experience violence and other forms of discrimination, and are unaware of helpful services, or such services are not accessible to them; they are not able to receive health care services, including sexual and reproductive health care services, because these services are not in accessible locations (due to the fact that the availability of these services are communicated in ways that are not accessible to them), and because health care providers cannot communicate with them or believe they are asexual; they are unable to access the justice system, especially for sexual violence cases, either because the police and judges cannot communicate with them or do not find their testimony credible, or because they have no information on how to access the system; and they are sometimes unwilling to return to their former home communities because of the fear of being ostracized based on their disability, or because the shelter in the refugee camp was slightly more accessible than their former home. Greater detail on these issues can be found in the Ortoleva and Lewis paper referenced above.
Legal and Policy Basis for Inclusion: The recommendation for the inclusion of issues of concern to women and girls with disabilities in the work of the CSW is drawn from and is consistent with the gender-sensitive, disability-inclusive approaches outlined in the United Nations Charter, and consistent with the provisions of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), especially its Article 6 on Women with Disabilities, the UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), especially its Article 14 and the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), as well as the 1995 Beijing Declaration and and the 2000 Special Session of the UN General Assembly, reviewing the progress of the outcomes of the Fourth World Conference on Women.
The UN General Assembly has over the last few years issued a series of resolutions, especially Resolutions A/65/186 and A/64/131, calling for the mainstreaming of persons with disabilities in development, and has specifically called upon Governments to promote gender equality and the empowerment of women with disabilities
Women and girls with disabilities look forward to participating in CSW 57 and hope that the comments and resources we have shared will result in the greater inclusion of a substantive discussion of violence against women and girls with disabilities at the session as well as the greater participation of women and girls with disabilities. Please contact Ms. Ortoleva at +1.202.359.3045 or WomenEnabled@gmail.com.
 UN Commission on the Status of Women, 57th
Session, Priority Theme - Elimination and prevention of all forms of violence
against women and girls, 4 – 14 March 2013, available at:
 We note that the June 2012 Concept Note for the September17-20, 2012 Expert Group Meeting did not mention violence against women and girls with disabilities, see, Expert Group Meeting Concept Note, EGM/PP/INF.1 (June 2012), available at: http://www.unwomen.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/06/Concept-Note-for-EGM-on-Prevention-of-Violence-Against-Women-and-Girls.pdf
 See, e.g., Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, G.A. Res. 61/106, U.N. Doc. A/RES/61/106 (Dec. 13, 2006), (Preamble (e), Art. 1, 3 (requiring the full integration of persons with disabilities in all segments of society so that they may fully participate and express themselves independently in social, legal, and political life, promoting, protecting and ensuring the full and equal enjoyment of all human rights and fundamental freedoms by all persons with disabilities, and promoting respect for their inherent dignity, and including those persons with disabilities who have long-term physical, mental, intellectual or sensory impairments which in interaction with various barriers may hinder their full and effective participation in society on an equal basis with others.) available at
 World Health Organization & World Bank, World Report on Disability, xi (2011), available at http://whqlibdoc.who.int/publications/2011/9789240685215_eng.pdf.
 Id. at 261.
 U.N. Charter (1945), available at http://www.un.org/en/documents/charter/index.shtml.
 See Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, G.A. Res. 61/106, U.N. Doc. A/RES/61/106 (Dec. 13, 2006), (Article 6 on Women and several other articles of the CRPD focus on the rights of women and girls with disabilities) available at
 See, Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women, G.A. Res. 34/180, U.N. Doc. A/RES/34/180 (Dec. 18, 1979)[hereinafter CEDAW], available at http://www.un.org/womenwatch/daw/cedaw/text/econvention.htm.
 Convention on the Rights of the Child, G.A. Res. 44/25, U.N. Doc. A/RES/44/25 (Nov. 20, 1989) [hereinafter CRC] (Article 23 of the CRC recognizes the special needs of disabled children.), available at http://www2.ohchr.org/english/law/pdf/crc.pdf.
 Fourth World Conference on Women, Beijing, P.R.C., Sept. 4-15, 1995, Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, ¶ 232(p), available at http://www.un.org/womenwatch/daw/beijing/pdf/BDPfA%20E.pdf.
 G.A. Res. S-23/3, ¶ 69(j), U.N. Doc. A/RES/S-23/3 (Nov. 16, 2000). At ¶ 83(d).
 Realizing the Millennium Development Goals for Persons with Disabilities Towards 2015 and Beyond, G.A. Res. 65/186, U.N. GAOR, 65th Sess., 71st plen. mtg., U.N. Doc. A/RES/65/186 (Dec. 21, 2010), available at: http://www.un.org/disabilities/default.asp?id=36; Realizing the Millennium Development Goals for Persons with Disabilities, G.A. Res. 64/131, U.N. GAOR, 64th Sess., 65th plen. mtg., U.N. Doc. A/RES/64/131 (Dec. 18, 2009), available at: http://www.un.org/disabilities/default.asp?id=36.