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International Women’s Day 2023: a call for disabled women’s rights

As member of the European Disability Forum (EDF), Autism-Europe joins EDF Women’s Committee to recall that women and girls with disabilities continue to face numerous forms of discrimination, abuse and violence all over Europe and in the world. 

“We find ourselves still fighting for equal wages, sexual and reproductive rights, and against violence, abuses, sexual exploitation, and overall, a world created for abled men.  It is clear that the pushback of women’s rights remains a reality. For women with disabilities, it means unemployment; in-work and out-of-work poverty; forced abortion, forced contraception and forced sterilisation; sexual exploitation; physical, psychological and economic violence; and lack of civil and political representation among many other issues”, stated EDF Women’s Committee.

“Today and every day we stand with the women’s movement to defend the rights of women in all their diversity.”

Autistic women face widespread discrimination in all fields of life. They face barriers to accessing education and employment on an equal footing with others, denial of their reproductive rights and the freedom to make their own choices, and a lack of involvement in policy making on matters that concern them.

As highlighted in our latest alternative report for the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), it is evidenced that, for a range of reasons, autistic women are less likely to be diagnosed or are identified much later than their male counterparts. Living with unidentified autism places significant mental strain on autistic girls and women, and prevent access to support. They are also at higher risks of being victim of sexual abuse and violence.

So, to mark International Women’s Day 2023, we join EDF social media campaign to ensure that the upcoming EU Directive to end Violence Against Women bans forced sterilisation of women and girls with disabilities. Under the hashtag #EndForcedSterilisation, the campaign calls for signatures for EDF petition against this pervasive abuse and a gross violation of disabled women’s fundamental rights – happening in at least 13 EU countries.

Sign the EDF petition here.

Autism-Europe is a long-standing advocate for women’s right and supporter of EDF fight against forced sterilisation of women and girls with disabilities.

Read more about AE advocacy here.

In cooperation with Inclusion Europe, we developed an Easy-To-Read (ETR) version explaining the Council of Europe’s Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence (Istanbul Convention) – now available in several languages.

Download the Istanbul Convention in ETR version here.