International Women’s Day is an opportunity to #ChooseToChallenge the discrimination and barriers that limit inclusion of women with disabilities. The International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES) and the Pacific Disability Forum (PDF) unite to celebrate advocates working to ensure equal access to rights for all women, including women and girls with disabilities, in the COVID-19 pandemic response and recovery.
An estimated 775,000 women with disabilities in the Pacific Islands region face multiple forms of discrimination and a lack of access to decision-making processes. The COVID-19 pandemic, climate change and other crises continue to have major implications for access to rights of Pacific women with disabilities. Additionally, Pacific women with disabilities are an underutilized source of power for the broader women’s movement.
To address these gaps, IFES and PDF, with support from the United States Agency for International Development, are empowering Pacific women with disabilities to advocate with policymakers using IFES’ “Power to Persuade” training methodology. “Power to Persuade” alumnae created the Pacific Islands Region Policy Platform on Rights of Women with Disabilities and this year updated their recommendations to address critical COVID-19 challenges. PDF calls on government stakeholders to:
- Improve access for women and girls with diverse disabilities to nationally available and up-to-date COVID-19 information and communications by producing information in accessible formats such as easy-to-read, large print, sign language and braille.
- Include women with disabilities in consultations with health departments about national health plans and train health care professionals on how to support and provide necessary health services, including counseling and psychosocial support, to women with disabilities.
- Ensure social protection mechanisms are inclusive of and accessible to women with disabilities in different geographic regions. Assign national-level government focal points to implement social protection measures with support from organizations of women with disabilities.
As we celebrate International Women’s Day on March 8, IFES and PDF stand in solidarity with women with disabilities across the region who call on government stakeholders in the Pacific Islands region to reaffirm their commitment to ensuring a gender- and disability-inclusive COVID-19 response and recovery.
Published on March 5, 2021.