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Amplifying the Voice and Spotlighting Visibility: Experiences of Women and Girls with Disabilities in the COVID-19 Response

December 4, 2020



  • The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed the deep-rooted structural discrimination globally. Research tells us that outbreak of the virus and its subsequent public health measures, namely social isolation, affects women and men differently, and that the pandemic has exacerbated existing gender and other inequalities.

    Furthermore, there is emerging data that indicates that the COVID-19 response has been especially biased against persons with disabilities and maybe a causal link to a range of human rights violations in all parts of the world.  At the same time, the intersections of gender and disability have resulted in intersecting and aggravated forms of discrimination against women and girls with disabilities. Many of these forms remain largely invisible, absent and unaddressed in the large-scale COVID-19 responses. Similarly, the discourse around the impact of COVID-19 on the society fails to address the needs and protections of women and girls with disabilities.

    The Article 6 of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) on Women with Disabilities underlines the multiple discrimination that women and girls with disabilities face and obliges State Parties to ensure their full and equal enjoyment of all human rights and fundamental freedoms. Yet a lack of success in tackling discriminatory attitudes and behaviors, to the need to ensure access to all necessary health care services and others, the inability to ensure meaningful participation to decision-making, and failure to prioritize systematic collection and use of disaggregated data and analysis on the situation of women and girls with disabilities, have perpetuated invisibility, exclusion and further marginalization. 

    This event will provide a platform for the voices of women with disabilities, to share experiences of good practices and facilitate a discussion on what we can do to unlock a vision of a better, more equitable, more inclusive, and a more just future. 

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    Jukka Salovaara

    Permanent Representative of Finland to the UN

    Yetnebersh Nigussie (moderator)

    Senior Manager for Global Action on Disability (GLAD), International Development Association (IDA)

    Charlotte McClain-Nhlapo

    Global Disability Adviser, World Bank Group

    Dr. Ola Abu Al Ghaib

    Manager, United Nations Partnership on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities UNPRPD

    Jane Kihungi

    Director, Women Challenged to Challenge, Kenya

    Soneni Gwizi

    Independdent broadcaster and influencer and Ambassador for the Action on Disability and Development for Africa, Zimbabwe

    Tatiana Vasconcelos Da Cruz

    Coordinator of the umbrella Uruguayan Organization of Persons with Disabilities, Uruguay

    Dan Seymour

    Director of Strategic Partnerships, UN Women