Women with Disabilities

Disabled Women in Africa International Women’s Day Statement

8th March 2014

Nairobi, Kenya

“Equality for Women is progress for all” is the theme of UN 2014 International Women’s Day. African women with disabilities believe that women empowered will be a Continent empowered.

Reminding all that gender equality is enshrined in the African Union (AU) Constitutive Act as a guiding principle of the Organisation;

that the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights (the African Charter), contains progressive provisions on the right to equality and respect for women’s rights;

and that the people of Africa are also guided by the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa (the Maputo Protocol) which specifically embodies all issues regarding women in the African context.

We, African women with disabilities, once again want to celebrate a peaceful, thriving and vibrant Continent where the intrinsic feminine power of women to nurture and sustain new life is once again recognized, honoured and valued. The inherent dignity and equality of women must once again be fully respected so that we can build sustainable communities and nations in Africa.

We African women with disabilities want effective, accountable, transparent institutions of governance with adequate representation of women with disabilities. We want this based on a human rights framework, gender equality and the right to development. We want full inclusion and effective participation in governance, strengthened by the rule of law, so that a concerted effort to eliminate crimes against women with disabilities, violence, abuse and exploitation of women with disabilities can cease. For this we need equal legal capacity. Responsive independent justice systems must prevail.

In addition, direct action must be taken to promote gender equality policies and legislation that is supported by gender disaggregated data, with clear targets and indicators that are effectively monitored.

We want the elimination of all harmful cultural practices that sustain patriarchy and further disable women with disabilities from taking their rightful place in society. We want traditional indigenous positive beliefs and practices that do not discriminate against women protected and promoted.

We want the promotion of equality and full inclusion within communities, countries and between the global North and South, East and West. We want peace and recognize that gender equality is the root action to promote equality and progress for all global citizens. Inequality destabilizes, leads to conflict and perpetuation of exploitation and abuse.

We want education for women with disabilities with lifelong opportunities. We want the means to share our knowledges and skills so that we can create wealth, joyous and meaningful lives.

We want particular attention paid to the health and wellbeing of women and girl child with disabilities with action taken that gender specific issues, such as reproductive rights, are included and respected in all agenda’s.

We want equal access to resources in the economy and communities and this includes land rights, access to financial institutions and programmes. We also recognize the importance of life sustaining need for access to clean water and sanitation especially in situations of humanitarian disasters where our sisters, brothers and children with disabilities find themselves refugees and displaced. As we celebrate today, let us remember them as they are especially affected in this regard.

We, women with disabilities in Africa believe there can be no development without human rights and equality of the sexes and there will be no realization of our universal rights and equality for all without development. We must have robust democratic institutions of power, including a strong vocal capacitated civil society networks, with adequate representation of women with disabilities that will serve to entrench our universal human right to sustain a peaceful continent, free of group discriminations, so as to ensure the end of the devastation of war and conflict and the associated evils of arms smuggling and manufacture, trafficking of women and children and the drug trade.

We want to eliminate our current poverty on this Continent, the hunger of our people, the indignities and dehumanization that the rape by the slave traders and colonizers of our Continent wrought upon us these past centuries. Now is the time as we engage in a new vision for the world post 2015 MDG’s, that the power gap that exists between men and women must be closed because full equality for all women, including those with disabilities, will result in the progress necessary to achieve this new vision of the world we want.


[1] DIWA was founded in 2002 so as to empower African Women and Girls with Disabilities through research, information sharing, networking, partnership and capacity development for unity in diversity.

By: Disabled Women in Africa (DIWA)
When: 10/3/2014

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