Rights of women and girls with disabilities

Women with disabilities are exposed to multiple discrimination, they are poor, find employment less often than men with disabilities and often remain invisible in the public life, stated the Commissioner for the Protection of Equality Brankica Janković at the„Rights of Women and Girls with Disabilities“ Conference, held on 3 December, the International Day of Persons With Disabilities.

At the opening of the conference, Commissioner Janković pointed out that women with disabilities are facing barriers in the realization of their rights and that they are also victims of physical and all other types of violence. Women with disabilities have been denied their rights to marriage, sexuality and motherhood for a long time, just because of a prevailing stereotype that they were not able to fulfill “traditional women’s role”, said the Commissioner.

Disability based discrimination is the third most common grounds for complaints, the institution of the Commissioner for the Protection of Equality received 390 complaints alleging disability based discrimination, while a little under one third of those complaints were filed by women claiming discrimination on the grounds of disability,  explained the Commissioner. She pointed out that men with disabilities file complaints more often than women with disabilities, stressing that these women need to be encouraged and empowered to address the institution and seek protection against discrimination.

Bearing this in mind, the Commissioner organized a conference on the occasion of the International Day of Persons with Disabilities in cooperation with partners – UN Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN WOMEN) and UN High Commissioner for Human Rights in Serbia, in order to highlight the position of women and girls with disabilities, but also to strengthen the mechanisms for improvement of their position and to enhance the means for reducing discrimination.

Assistant to the Commissioner Kosana Beker presented the General Comment No.3 on Article 6 of the UN Convention of Rights of Persons with Disabilities, related to women and girls with disabilities. Pursuant to this Article all state signatories have taken on the commitment to respect, protect and enable the exercise of rights of women with disabilities, to prevent multiplied discrimination and to provide adequate protection.

Speakers at the conference included Chief of UN Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN WOMEN) Milena Rikanović, Advisor of the Resident Coordinator of UN in Serbia Claude Cahn, Ivanka Janković from the National Organization of Persons With Disabilities of Serbia, Gordana Rajkov from the Centre for Independent Life of Persons With Disabilities, Biljana Janjić from the Initiative for Rights of Persons With Disabilities (MDRI) and others.

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