Women with disability experience gender inequality as well as inequality and discrimination that stems from societal attitudes,practices and structures towards those with disabilities, often in ways that are linked.
Understand the issues
Gender-based and disability-based discrimination combine to increase the likelihood that violence is perpetrated against women with disabilities, and that perpetrators exploit women’s disabilities as a form of violence.
Such violence includes control over a woman’s reproductive choices,and abuse by carers and in disability care settings.
Men who use violence often target women who they see as less powerful, such as women who have barriers to communication with others about what has happened to them, and those restricted in their physical movement.
Women with disabilities experience all types of violence at higher rates, with increased severity and over longer time periods than women who do not have a disability.
Perpetrators of violence may be intimate partners, other family members, carers, or staff in institutional or service settings. Men with disabilities may be perpetrators.The violence can also cause disability through mental and physical injuries inflicted on women.
Women and girls with disabilities come from a diverse range of backgrounds. This means that disability intersects with other factors in women’s lives that can expose them to additional forms of disadvantage and discrimination.
Things you can do
Women with disabilities should be involved in all prevention work as practitioners, leaders and champions. Partner with specialist organisations led by and for people with disabilities, including organisations that work specifically with women with disabilities.
Be aware of the specific forms of violence that women with disabilities experience and the ways society marginalises women.
Ensure all work, including community consultation, is inclusive and accessible to a range of audiences, and ensure activities do not lead to further harm, disadvantage or discrimination. Remember that members of the target audience may have multiple forms of disability and consider how to make your work accessible and comprehensive for everyone.
Train facilitators to deliver prevention work that is both gender transformative and disability-sensitive.
Address the norms, practices and structures that result in ableism and disability-based discrimination.
Education programs for and about women with disabilities
The Gender and Disability Workforce Development Program was created to help service providers work in a way that is more sensitive, responsive and empowering for women with disabilities. This workforce program aims to improve women with disabilities’ health and wellbeing and reduce gender and disability-based discrimination and violence.
This paper examines these issues in the context of the agenda to prevent violence against women and their children. It highlights the critical need to understand and respect the complexity and specificity of gendered disability violence.