Pradeep Bagival

Thanks for this opportunity to respond to a very pertinent question and wish to  highlight the barriers for organizations of persons with disabilities (OPDs) and women in developing countries which is home to more than 80% of persons with disabilities. Thanks to the  ratification of the CRPD by the state parties in developing countries , many governments are according recognition to OPDs and participation of women with disabilities. Disability stakeholders such as  governments/ UN/ CSOs  including govts in LDCs  are seeking disaggregated data on how many men and women with disabilities were part of the policy consultations organized.

Gender equality is implicitly mentioned  in the national constitutions and national disability legislations . However these provisions often not implemented and women with disabilities continue to be excluded in the decision- making process . At the global level, it was during the  2016 elections of the CRPD committee that the issue of gender equality became prominent as women were not equally represented in this august committee that is expected to look into issues of exclusion of OPDs and especially women with disabilities. It is interesting to read the Infographic of the G Equal Campaign which stated that since the beginning of 2017 , only one woman had served as a member among the CRPD 18 committee members. In 2020 elections , it was heartening to know that the State Parties had elected more women than men in that year’s election and to achieve the gender parity.

Among the internal barriers at the national level  , many OPDs are still led by  men with disabilities and women with disabilities are fewer in number. In many developing countries we see organizations of women with disabilities being established and playing a significant role by getting engaged in policy discussions  and promoting gender equality at the national level. Education , accessibility, community  support services and other factors contributing to independent living impact the role of women with disabilities getting involved in policy discussions.

One noticeable fact is that the  OPDs and women with disabilities have more opportunities to participate in the policy discussions on gender equality  in developing countries that are ranked high in terms of  rule of law . UN entities have a predominant role to play in  promoting the participation of OPDs and especially women with disabilities in developing and least developed countries.  As development partners and rendering technical support and cooperation to national governments, UN should amplify the voices of OPDs and women with disabilities in the policy discussions.  In many countries , UN Country Teams need to engage   effectively with OPDs and this is evident from the report of the UN Secretary General, 2020  on the implementation of the UN Disability Inclusion Strategy, which states that the engagement of the UN system with OPDs have not been undertaken in a systemic, inclusive and accessible manner and 69% of the UN entities miss the requirement for this indicator.