The challenges facing women and children with disabilities are the focus of the annual Conference of States Parties for the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, scheduled for September 12 to 14, 2012. The convention requires specific protections from discrimination for women and children with disabilities, reflecting their vulnerability to abuses. Human Rights Watch’s research on women and children with disabilities is summarized in a brochure released on September 11.
“Women and children with disabilities are vulnerable to human rights abuses not only because of disability but also because of their age or gender,” said Amanda McRae, disability rights researcher at Human Rights Watch. “Governments at this year’s conference should show that they are not only serious about the rights of women and children with disabilities on paper, but that they intend to put those protections into practice.”
As part of the conference, Human Rights Watch is organizing expert panels on violence against children with disabilities as well as mental health practices and the rights of people with psychosocial disabilities (mental health problems). Speakers include representatives from Human Rights Watch, UNICEF, and the World Health Organization.
In addition to the rights of women and children with disabilities, the conference will address the failure of major international development programs to address the needs of people with disabilities. The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), the largest global effort to eradicate poverty, makes no mention of people with disabilities.
“There are 1 billion people with disabilities worldwide, and most of them live in poverty,” McRae said. “Countries and development organizations need to ensure that the needs of people with disabilities are at the forefront of their planning.”
Since the Disabilities Rights Convention went into effect in 2007, 119 countries have ratified it. The convention includes provisions on the right to be free from discrimination and the rights to live in the community and make one’s own decisions, as well as to access justice, education, and employment, among others. All remaining countries should ratify the treaty and its Optional Protocol, which provides for a mechanism for people to submit complaints of treaty violations, Human Rights Watch said.