On 23rd June, Sisters of Frida – a collective of disabled women in the UK – sent a letter to Rt Hon Nicky Morgan MP (UK), UN Enable, UN Women, International Disability Alliance and the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights. The occasion was the recent election of the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD Committee), which has remained with only one female member, out of 18 in total. The letter was supported by individuals and organisations working in the human rights sector, including ENIL. You can read the letter below:
“We write as the only collective of women with disabilities in the UK to express our serious disappointment that the new composition of the CRPD Committee, which is specifically a convention on and for disabled people, will have only one woman representative. Indeed, the CRPD Committee now stands as the treaty body with the fewest number of women members – one woman (out of 18 members) in 2017- a significant departure from its previous compositions of six women (out of 18 members) in 2014-2016; seven women (out of 18 members) in 2012-2014; eight women (out of eighteen members) in 2010-2012; and five women (out of 12 members) in 2008-2010.
Yet, article 34(4) of the CRPD sets out the requirement that States Parties elect members of the Committee with consideration being given to: equitable geographical distribution, representation of different legal systems, balanced gender representation and participation of experts with disabilities. This requirement for gender parity has clearly not been met.
In March, members of Sisters of Frida participated at the UN CSW 60 at which themes under discussion and review included the empowerment of women and the elimination and prevention of all forms of violence against women and girls. There was a marked paucity of events covering disabled women although several side-events were held by and with disabled women expressing the issues forcibly and clearly.
Disabled women are among the most disadvantaged in the world and this failure to attend to the issues facing disabled women cannot help in the fight against barriers imposed not just by the built environment and lack of accessibility to services, employment and education but also by social barriers: stigmatization, ostracization and the easy targeting of those who are particularly susceptible to discrimination, including the fact we are female. How will these concerns be heard and represented? The CRPD recognizes the intersecting forms of discrimination faced by women and girls in Article 6; we need women representatives in the committee in order to ensure the Committee engages and addresses this issue.
What will you do to redress this lack of gender equality so that it will not be the case for the next election? What is the work to be done to ensure the inclusion of women across all the conventions, and agreements to which the UK Government is party? This absence of women in decision-making is likely to lead to leaving many behind in the face of the cry underpinning the Sustainable Development Goals, including Goal 5, that no-one should be left behind.”
Sisters of Frida
Photo: logo of Sisters of Frida