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More than 9,000 gather in Brussels not to leave any woman behind

actOn June 5-6, the 12th edition of the European Development Days (EDD), organised in Brussels by the European Commission, brought the development community together to share ideas and experiences on how to empower women and girls to shape sustainable development, including specific session about women with disabilities.

Under the title “Women and Girls at the Forefront of Sustainable Development: protect, empower, invest”, the EDD 2018 aimed to bring together the European Union’s commitment to gender equality and women’s empowerment with the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Gender equality and women empowerment are at the core of European values and enshrined in the EU’s legal and political framework. Thus, the event focused on the vital role of women and the need for their full and equal participation and leadership in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

This year, EDD achieved new heights, with  a programme of  120 sessions; the participation of 650 speakers and moderators; the attendance of 192 journalists; a Global Village with 91 stands and 9,000 participants present over the two days.

No woman left behind

The EDD 2018 agenda highlighted three key priorities particularly relevant in today’s current context: ‘Ensuring the physical and psychological integrity of Girls and Women’, ‘Promoting economic and social rights and empowerment of Girls and Women’, ‘Strengthening Girls’ and Women’s voice and participation’.

On June 5, the Lab Debate “Women and Girls with Disability- Challenges for social inclusion policies regarding Disability in the context of Development Agenda” dealt with cross-cutting aspects such as forced sterilization, social awareness, sexual and reproductive health and legislative practices related to these issues. Opened by Queen Letizia of Spain, the event featured speakers from NGOs active in the field, such as CERMI-Women, ONCE-FOAL, COCEMFE and UNFPA.

“Women with disabilities are subjected to very severe exclusion,” said Amalia Dieguez of CERMI-Women. Beatriz Martínez from ONCE-FOAL also emphasized the scarce inclusion and lack of accessibility for disabled women in development cooperation projects. In turn, Carmen Ruiz de COCEMFE mentioned the need for adequate budget to be able to make their rights effective. “Do not leave anyone behind” was one of the motto of  Luis Mora of UNFPA, and he underlined the  importance of mainstreaming the Disability Agenda in order to fully implement the  2030 Agenda for SDGs.

On June 6, the debate “Women on the rise – no one left behind! – Social protection and self-employment empowering women with disabilities to take the lead” addressed the issues linked to the intersections of gender, disability, social protection, human rights and economic empowerment issues. Speakers shared country-level experiences on how reliable social protection and access to work foster the empowerment of disabled women and allow them to contribute to the development of their communities and local economies.

Furthermore, speakers from Sudan, Tanzania and Ecuador presented different experiences where women with disabilities have become a driving force for sustainable development in their communities and local economies. The following video was also presented: “Women on the rise: No one left behind!”.

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