Call for prioritisation and inclusion of women and girls with disabilities in development

September 21, 2020 Untitled design

This virtual statement was presented by Ashrafunnahar Misti from Women with Disabilities Development Foundation (WDDF), Bangladesh during the 45th Session of the Human Rights Council Interactive dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on the right to development. To watch the full intervention, click HERE.


Thank you.

I am Ashrafunnahar Misti, and I am making this statement on behalf of the Women with Disabilities Development Foundation (WDDF), Bangladesh and the Asian-Pacific Resource and Research Centre for Women (ARROW). This statement has been endorsed by over 100 organisations.

Through this statement, we would like to raise our concerns regarding the non-inclusion of people with disabilities in general, women and girls with disabilities in particular, in development efforts. The right to development should be contextualized keeping people at the centre of sustainable development and ensuring equality, and equity and human rights as guiding principles to the development, leaving no one behind. This will  ensure that vulnerable and marginalised populations, including women and girls with disabilities  are not faced with challenges that threaten their throughout their lives affecting their right to health, optimal nutrition,and education (including comprehensive sexuality education), opportunities for empowerment, economic and social development, and protection from violence and abuse. 

In recent years, the South Asian region has seen some consistent growth with significant strides being taken on issues related to poverty, education, employment, and health. Technological advancements in some of these countries, including in Bangladesh,  have enabled those living in the region to have better access to information and services. All of this has made South Asia, one of the fastest-growing regions in the world.

Despite this growth, progress in Bangladesh and in countries across the region has not been inclusive and equal as disparities exist. Women and girls with disabilities are still the most vulnerable and marginalized sections of the population with their access to opportunities, basic necessities, services, and information being hindered by a number of factors that prevent them from fully participating in the private and public life. Women and girls with disabilities face neglect and discrimination from an early age into their adulthood with minimal/no support from society and the community around them that affects their empowerment. In the long run, these systemic barriers adversely affect the physical, psychological, emotional, social, and economic development of women and girls with disabilities. Current social protection schemes and other state-level initiatives are also inadequate in addressing their education, health, and employment needs of women and girls with disabilities. The resulting consequence is that women and girls with disabilities are the furthest behind as they least benefit from the social and economic developments in the region. 


State commitment to various international instruments and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) obliges governments to ensure everyone’s right to develop into adulthood through making SRHR related services, information and education are accessible and available to all including to women and girls with disabilities[2]. We urge States to take a robust, inclusive, intersectional, and sustained approach that is both human rights and evidence-based and accounts for vulnerabilities based on gender, age, and disability.

Our key recommendation to the governments in the region are as follows:

    1. Uphold commitments to various international human rights treaties namely CEDAW, CRC, CRPD, ICESCR, ICCPR, and commitments to Sustainable Development Goals and the 2030 Agenda, the Beijing Platform for Action, and the International Conference on Population and Development Programme of Action to protect and uphold the rights of women and girls with disabilities and carry out human rights and constitutional obligations to adequately resource and ensure that women and girls of all ages and in all of their diversity, have safe, timely and undisrupted access to a full range of necessary information, services, and resources.
    2. Ensure that collection and collation of data on progress (or lack of it) are disaggregated by disability, income, sex, gender, age, race, ethnicity, migratory status, geographic location to enable policymakers and stakeholders to make informed decisions on policies and programs concerning women and girls with disabilities and thereby strengthen the overall national monitoring mechanisms.
    3. Ensure that the national budget complies with national and international commitments as stated in the 2030 SDG Agenda and the CRPD in terms of size, share, and sensitivity. Enhance civil society engagement by making information on expenditure available for scrutiny and policy debate so that women and girls with disabilities are prioritised through a comprehensive economic, social, and political process.
    4. Adopt inclusive gender-responsive schemes and programs and integrate them into the national plan of action and in policies related to social security, water, sanitation, health access, education, and employment opportunities, to address the requirement of women and girls with disabilities to ensure their participation in both private and public life.
    5. Enable meaningful and inclusive participation of women with disabilities by encouraging them in leadership roles and ensuring their representation in development-related activities, in decision-making processes including in electoral processes and positions.
    6. Make health services, policies, programs, facilities accessible for women and girls with disabilities to enable them to benefit from quality essential health care, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. Also make sure women and girls with disabilities have access to sexual and reproductive health and rights, effective and affordable medicine, assistive products, and vaccines without any barriers and discrimination.
    7. Actively raise awareness on the rights of women and girls with disabilities from the grassroots level to the national level and sensitize the media, service providers, and community members on these rights so that women and girls with disabilities are fully empowered in their own rights.
    8. Strengthen the response systems and infrastructure and availability of relief/remedy when faced with social injustice, sexual and gender-based violence, torture, abuse, and discrimination. Adopt community-centered, holistic, comprehensive, and coordinated strategies that improve protection mechanisms such as safe shelter and access to justice, and enhance their access to health care including sexual and reproductive health. Extend such measures in all situations including during pandemics, natural disasters, humanitarian crisis situations, and during the conflict/post-conflict scenarios.

Endorsed by:

  1. Access Bangladesh Foundation
  2. Action on Disability and Development (ADD) International
  3. Alliance of Urban DPO’s in Chittagong (AUDC)
  4. Bangladeshi Society Change Advocacy Nexus (BSCAN)
  5. Bangladesh Disability and Development Trust (BDDT)
  6. Bangladesh Odhibasi Mahila Sramik Association (BOMSA)
  7. Centre for Development in Disability (CDD)
  8. Citizens’ Initiative on CEDAW Bangladesh (CICBD) – A platform of 50 human and women’s rights organisations.
  9. Christoffel-Blidenmission Christian Blind Mission e.V. (CBM)
  10. Citizen’s Platform for SDGs, Bangladesh
  11. Disabled Child Foundation (DCF)
  12. FAIR
  13. Handicap International-Humanity and Inclusion (HI)
  14. Human Rights Forum Bangladesh (HRFB)-A
  15. Ain o Salish Kendra (ASK)
  16. Acid Survivors Foundation (ASF)
  17. Association for Land Reform and Development (ALRD)
  18. Bandhu Social Welfare Society (BSWS)
  19. Bangladesh Adivasi Forum
  20. Bangladesh Dalit and Excluded Rights Movements (BDERM)
  21. Bangladesh Institute of Labor Studies (BILS)
  22. Bangladesh Legal Aid & Services Trust (BLAST)
  23. Bangladesh Mahila Parishad (BMP)
  24. FAIR, Kapaeeng Foundation
  25. Karmojibi Nari (KN)
  26. Manusher Jonno Foundation (MJF)
  27. Nagorik Uddyog
  28. Naripokkho
  29. National Alliance of Disabled Peoples’ Organizations (NADPO)
  30. Nijera Kori
  31. Steps Towards Development (STD)
  32. Transparency International Bangladesh (TIB)
  33. Human Rights Disability and Development Foundation (HDDF)
  34. Leonard Cheshire Bangladesh
  35. National Council for Disabled Women (NCDW)
  36. National Grassroot Disabled Organization (NGDO)
  37. Protik Mohila O Shishu Sangstha (PMSS)
  38. Turning Point Foundation
  39. Visual Impaired Peoples Society (VIPS)
  40. Yong Power in Social Action (YPSA)
  41. BRAC JPG
  42. BRAC Education
  43. SERAC, Bangladesh
  44. Reproductive Health Services, Training and Education Program (RHSTEP), Bangladesh
  45. United for Bodily Rights (UBR) Alliance
  46. Family PLanning Association of Bangladesh (FPAB)
  47. Oboyob, Bangladesh
  48. Centre for Rehabilitation of the Paralyzed (CRP), Bangladesh
  49. Association of Youth NGOs in Nepal (AYON)
  50. Beyond Beijing Committee (BBC)
  51. Blue Diamond Society (BDS)
  52. CDS Park, Mugu
  53. Family Planning Association Nepal (FPAN)
  54. Federation of Sexual and Gender Minorities in Nepal (FSGMN)
  55. HUDEP Sunsari
  56. LOOM Nepal
  57. Restless Development Nepal
  58. RUWON Nepal, Sindhuli
  59. Visible Impact
  60. Youth Action Nepal (YoAC)
  61. Youth Development Centre (YDC)
  62.  YUWA
  63.  Yuwalaya
  64. Women for Change, Mongolia
  65. Teman Belajar Remaja Kupang Indonesia
  66. Federation of Reproductive Health Associations, Malaysia (FRHAM)
  67. Bandanh Chaktomok, Cambodia
  68. We Can, Bangladesh
  69. The Asia-Pacific Climate Project, Indonesia
  70. YPEER Asia Pacific Center, Thailand
  71. Working Group on Disabilities and 2030 Agenda ( WGD2030), Thailand
  72. Me for Myself for Mental Health, Thailand
  73. The We Can Project
  74. Forum for Dignity Initiatives-FDI, Pakistan

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