On the 7 June, Ana Peláez Narváez from Spain, Vice-President of the European Disability Forum (EDF) and blind from birth, was elected to the U.N. Committee on Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) becoming the first women with a disability to be appointed to this position in the Committee’s 37-year history. It therefore marks a historical moment for both the disability and women’s empowerment movements.
Why does Peláez want to serve on the CEDAW Committee?
“I believe there is a need to mainstream women and girls with disabilities systematically in the work of CEDAW. We are 20% of the total population of women in the world, but we are among the poorest and we are constantly subjected to aggravated forms of discrimination.
“I also want to focus on strengthening the work of the CEDAW Committee in reaction to the multiple discrimination many invisible women face, and this means making progress on drawing up guidelines for State Parties to address intersectional discrimination and ensure we leave no one behind.
“I hope to play an active role in the process to foster co-operation among UN treaty bodies so that they can learn from each other and adopt a consistent approach, moving forward in the same direction when addressing the same issues.
“Finally, I believe we need to do more to reflect the dimensions of human diversity in the CEDAW Committee and, in particular, include people from invisible and ignored population groups, such as women with disabilities.
NOTHING ABOUT US WITHOUT US!”
Championing the rights of women and girls with disabilities worldwide
Peláez is currently the Director of International Relations at the Spanish National Organisation of the Blind (ONCE), executive Vice-President of the ONCE Foundation for Solidarity with Blind People in Latin America (FOAL) and Commissioner for Women’s Affairs at the Spanish Committee of Representatives of People with Disabilities (CERMI). These responsibilities have led her to represent her organisation at the European and international levels.
She also has extensive expertise working in the United Nations human rights system as a two-term Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities expert and participated in the official Spanish delegation that took part in the final drafting phase of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. She has been a champion for women’s rights for more than 20 years, advising governments, civil society and other organisations. Since 2010 she has participated as a representative of women with disabilities from Spain and Europe in the UN Commission on the Status of Women.
In Spain, she sits as an expert on the Royal Board on Disability, the State Observatory against Gender Violence, and the Council for Women’s Participation.
The election of Peláez marks the beginning of a new era where the rights of women and girls with disabilities are made more visible and increasingly mainstreamed throughout the UN system.