posted to Rt Hon Nicky Morgan MP (UK), UN Enable, UN Women, International Disability Alliance,
Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights
23 rd June 2016
Dear Rt Hon Nicky Morgan MP (UK) and other concerned parties,
We write as the only collective of women with disabilities in the UK to express our serious disappointment that the new composition of the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), which is specifically a convention on and for disabled people, will have only one woman representative.
We are joined by our deep disappointment and concern by the International Network of Women with Disabilities (INWWD), European Network of Independent Living (ENIL), Women with Disabilities India Network, Pukenga Consultancy (NZ), Advocacy for Inclusion (Australia) and Women Enabled International in this letter.
Indeed, the CRPD Committee now stands as the treaty body with the fewest number of women members ‚Äď one woman (out of 18 members) in 2017– a significant departure from its previous compositions of six women (out of 18 members) in 2014-2016; seven women (out of 18 members) in 2012-2014; eight women (out of eighteen members) in 2010-2012; and five women (out of 12 members) in 2008-2010.
Yet, article 34(4) of the CRPD sets out the requirement that States Parties elect members of the Committee with consideration being given to: equitable geographical distribution, representation of different legal systems, balanced gender representation and participation of experts with disabilities. This requirement for gender parity has clearly not been met. This failure to adhere to its own Convention seriously undermines the credibility of the new Committee.
In March, members of Sisters of Frida, the INWWD, and Women Enabled International participated at the UN CSW 60 at which themes under discussion and review included the empowerment of women and the elimination and prevention of all forms of violence against women and girls. There was a marked paucity of events covering disabled women although several side-events were held by and with disabled women expressing the issues forcibly and clearly.
Disabled women are among the most disadvantaged in the world, despite being the single largest minority of women, and this failure to attend to the issues facing disabled women cannot help in the fight against barriers imposed not just by the built environment and lack of accessibility to services, employment and education but also by social barriers: stigmatization, ostracization and the easy targeting of those who are particularly susceptible to discrimination, including the fact we are female. How will these concerns be heard and represented? The CRPD recognizes the intersecting forms of discrimination faced by women and girls in Article 6; we need women representatives in the committee in order to ensure the Committee engages and addresses this issue.
What will you do to redress this lack of gender equality so that it will not be the case for the next election? What is the work to be done to ensure the inclusion of women across all the conventions, and agreements to which the UK Government is party? This absence of women in decision-making is likely to lead to leaving many behind in the face of the cry underpinning the Sustainable Development Goals, including Goal 5, that no-one should be left ¬†behind.
How can we be of assistance?
We look forward to your reply,
Sisters of Frida
Other signatories include
Myra Kovary (Moderator, International Network of Women with Disabilities)
Jamie Bolling (CEO, European Network on Independent Living)
Prof. (Dr) Asha Hans (Women with Disabilities India Network)
Dr Huhanna Hickey (Pukenga Consultancy, NZ)
Christina Ryan (CEO, Advocacy for Inclusion, Australia)
Stephanie Ortoleva Esq (Founding President & Legal Director, Women Enabled International)