We, the participants of Women Taking Action Locally and Globally , held at the University of NSW, 17-19 June 2004, representing Indigenous, Australian and Pacific women with disability strongly assert that:
We are women first and foremost and refuse to be defined by our impairments, medical or health conditions or by what we cannot do. We are not special, brave, inspirational, objects of pity or personal tragedies. Our disability is the attitudinal, communication, cultural, physical and structural barriers that have been created by society and the lack of support needed to participate equally in community life. We will not be defined by the services we use or require.
Therefore, we strongly urge human rights bodies, women’s human rights bodies, governments of all levels and mainstream women’s government and non-government organisations to:
1. adopt a social model of disability that is respectful of culture, and also, adopt a more progressive rights based approach with regard to discrimination and disadvantage faced by women and girls with disability;
2. ensure that human rights mechanisms, including women’s human rights mechanisms are interpreted, developed and implemented to reflect a social model of disability and a more progressive rights based approach with regard to discrimination and disadvantage faced by women and girls with disability;
3. include, and actively involve, Indigenous women and girls with disability and their issues in the development, implementation, decision-making and monitoring of all legislation, conventions, policy, programs and services at international, national and local levels;
4. include, and actively involve, Pacific women and girls with disability and their issues in the development, implementation, decision-making and monitoring of all legislation, conventions, policy, programs and services at the local, Oceania, Pacific, Asia-Pacific and international levels;
5. actively support and advocate for the International Convention to Promote and Protect the Rights of Persons with Disabilities; the inclusion of the needs and rights of women with disability in each of the substantive Articles, and in the Preamble and Principles, of this Convention; and the inclusion of an Article that addresses the specific needs and rights of women with disability in the Convention;
6. recognise that HIV/AIDS is a critical issue for women, young women and girls in the Asia/Pacific region; acknowledge the stigma and negative judgements that women, young women and girls with HIV/AIDS experience; and, at a global, country and local level develop appropriate responses to the HIV/AIDS pandemic that include and involve women, young women and girls with HIV/AIDS;
7. undertake research and data collection in relation to gender and specific disability and cultural needs to ensure equitable resource allocation; to develop accessible and inclusive services, programs and policies for all women and girls with disability; and to effectively monitor progress of implementation of human rights mechanisms. Research and data collection must actively include and involve women and girls with disability;
8. acknowledge and respond to the fact that women and girls with disability face multiple discrimination and disadvantages in relation to other women, and within all areas of life, including discrimination and disadvantage based on the intersection between gender, disability, ethnicity, sexuality and geographical factors;
9. intensify efforts to address issues specific to women, young women and girls with disability, including unnecessary and illegal sterilisation procedures, forced abortion, genetic testing and the link to eradicating disability, sexual rights, mothers with disability and the lack of access to cervical and breast screening;
10. end institutionalisation of people with disability as a matter of priority, and develop culturally and gender appropriate supported community living options and support services based on individual choice, and that ensure re-institutionalisation does not occur. This includes ensuring that young people with disability are not placed in aged care facilities;
11. recognise and appropriately respond to the cultural and linguistic diversity of Deaf women and girls, including recognition of sign languages specific to each nation State;
12. recognise and implement appropriate responses to the diverse communication needs of women and girls with disability, including preferred modes of communication, non-verbal communication and augmentative communication technology;
13. actively include and involve women, young women and girls with disability in all consultations, decision-making, planning and review processes that impact on women and girls;
14. provide specific programs and inclusion in generic systems, policy and programs for women, young women and girls with disability on leadership skills, mentoring and political participation, including voting rights;
15. include women, young women and girls with disability in mainstream women’s leadership, mentoring and training programs to ensure that women, young women and girls with disability are integral to their internal advisory and decision-making processes;
16. provide for the development of culturally appropriate individual and systemic advocacy programs and services for women, young women and girls with disability; and
17. develop mainstream government and non-government women’s services that are accessible, culturally appropriate and inclusive of women with disability.
In addition, we call on governments and non-government organisations, including mainstream women’s organisations, in Asia and the Pacific to:
18. implement all aspects of the Biwako Millennium Framework For Action Towards an Inclusive, Barrier-Free and Rights-Based Society for Persons with Disabilities in Asia and the Pacific, ensuring that women with disability are addressed in all seven priority areas and included in all four strategies;
We call on the Australian Government to:
19. subject immigration and refugee laws and practices to anti-discrimination legislation so that disability can never be used as grounds for not providing refugee or migration status.
18 June, 2004.
1.This workshop enabled women to discuss the progress of implementation of CEDAW and the Beijing Platform for Action in Australia and the Pacific, and to assess the Sex Discrimination Act 1984 (Cth) in Australia. The workshop was organised by the Centre for Refugee Research, the Australian National Committee on Refugee Women and the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission.
2. The recommendations have not been prioritised and have only been numbered for ease of reference.