The first thing is to struggle against social prejudices that generate abuse and violence. In our societies, there are prejudices stating that disabled women are not useful to society. Therefore, they are rarely sent to school or entrusted with daily tasks, and they learn very little. How can girls become well-rounded women this way? This is my struggle: to end with stereotypes and promote the image of the disabled woman in Malian society. So that women do not have to look at themselves in this broken mirror, but are eventually able to marry, have children, run a household, be productive and serve the country’s economic development.
Djikiné Hatouma Gakou
It was an important aspect to me that first I was denied rights for being a person with disabilities, and that in addition I also was facing additional barriers for being a woman. This gave me a feeling of injustice, which generated indignation. At this time, I couldn’t understand it from the perspective of intersectionality, but I was experiencing it, and I really felt that there was a major discrimination for being a woman. So, to begin with, this led me towards the movement for women’s rights. This proved really helpful in my case, as it was an introduction to a better understanding of the social situation that we - I and other people with disabilities I knew - were experiencing. And this is what motivated me to work in the area of the rights of people with disabilities.
I think that one of the Committee’s highly valuable contributions, considering the Convention as a human rights instrument, is the intersectional analysis of human rights violations. If people with disabilities have reduced access to services, we think that if disability combines with another factor, such as being an indigenous person or living in a rural area, this can make their situation even worse. And the Convention picks this up. So, the Convention is truly a human rights instrument, and this is an interpretation that has therefore enriched international human rights law.
SDGs and other processes are now intersecting disability with other issues, as part of a mainstreaming logic. Issues relating to disabilities are now emerging out of the disability circle to the general circle. The same is true for the link between poverty and disability. There might be a crucial need to overlap these issues, and I am glad that issues like intersectionality between gender and disability have begun to be considered. We could go even further with the intersectionality analysis, and consider disability in relation to various contexts, such as war, migration and refugee camps.
There are lots of discriminations, for example against migrants, in the entire world. Of course, seeing discrimination from an intersectional analysis perspective also applies to people with disabilities. I have a feminist friend who says that, generally speaking, if someone discriminates for one reason, he/she also discriminates for all reasons (for example, discrimination against migrants, almost automatically signifies discrimination against indigenous people, women, people with disabilities). This is a real risk that we are facing.
If we really want to have our rights fulfilled, we have to focus disability advocacy upon governments, as well as other organizations, not to mention organizations of “diff-abled” people. Networking with other organizations such as labor organizations, or other organizations working in favor of children or the environment, also seems to be an important issue. There is clearly a lot to achieve, associating with both diff-abled and other types of organizations. It is a great process to engage in.
Setia Adi Purwanta
I put as an example the successes that associations of women have managed to reach in terms of political representation, because as a result of their actions it is rare nowadays that women’s rights are not taken into account. As far as disability is concerned, civil society must always be there to keep reminding people. This is quite a powerful incentive to encourage civil society to empower itself, increase its political participation and get involved in the political life of countries. For example, if I am looking for a job, I will be focusing on employment. If I like art, I will be focusing on the right to cultural life. I think we have to be more strategic, get interested in the political life of our countries and see human rights as something holistic. The disability rights movement must empower itself with its own rights and lead political actions, taking into account the focus on gender and incorporating the interest of other groups that are discriminated against within society, such as children, elders and indigenous people. Indeed, I have the feeling that even if the Convention brings in the intersectional analysis, it is still difficult for people with disabilities to incorporate other struggles.
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