The World Blind Union joins the United Nations to celebrate International Women’s Day on 8 March 2019. The theme this year is Think equal, build smart, innovate for change. It focuses on innovative ways in which we can advance gender equality and the empowerment of women, particularly in the areas of social protection systems, access to public services and sustainable infrastructure.Hence it is a day to promote gender equality and women’s empowerment, including women with visual disabilities.
Generally, blind and partially sighted women and girls experience multiple forms of discrimination, which infringe on their basic human rights and empowerment. Due to the intersections of discrimination based on gender and disability, blind and partially sighted women are at a higher risk of neglect, gender-based violence and exploitation.
The latest data shows that 55% of the world’s visually impaired are women (139 million).States must address the unique needs of blind and partially sighted womento ensure equal participation and access to education, innovation and technology opportunities,employment, rehabilitation, among other basic rights.
According to Article 6 of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) states parties recognize that women and girls with disabilities are subject to multiple discrimination, and in this regard shall take measures to ensure the full and equal enjoyment by them of all human rights and fundamental freedoms.
Furthermore, gender inequality continues to hold women back and deprives them of basic rights and opportunities as per Sustainable Development Goal 5. This Goal states that empowering women requires addressing structural issues such as unfair social norms and attitudes as well as developing progressive legal frameworks that promote equality between women and men.The achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals requires transformative shifts, integrated approaches and new solutions, particularly when it comes to advancing gender equality, innovation and the empowerment of all women and girls.
The World Blind Union, therefore, reminds states to fulfil their obligations by protecting and respecting the rights of women, particularly blind and partially sighted women. As we commemorate International Women’s Day,we appeal to states, UN agencies, development partners and civil society to mainstream the rights of women with disabilities in their development plans, programs and policies.We urge governments to end all forms of discrimination against women with disabilities and put in place necessary provisions to promote gender equality and other fundamental rights of all women.
It is vital that women’s ideas and experiences equally influence the design and implementation of the innovations that shape our future societies.