- March 10, 2013

New York, 8 March 2013 – Today the international community celebrates International Women´s Day with a series of events that both celebrate and demand the increase of women and girl’s fundamental rights around the world. The theme of this year’s women’s day is “A promise is a promise: Time for action to end violence against women”.

On the occasion of the International Women´s Day, UN Women and the International Disability Alliance (IDA), with the co-sponsorship of Australia, Bulgaria, El Salvador, Jordan, Peru and New Zealand, and help from other supporting organizations such as Human Rights Watch, Plan, UNICEF, and Women Enabled held a side event on violence against women and girls with disabilities during the 57th session of the Commission on the Status of the Women (4-15 March).

Following an introduction from the Permanent Representative of El Salvador, UN Women’s Executive Director, Michelle Bachelet, led a high-level panel discussion to explore the intersection of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) and the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) in order to strengthen the fight to eliminate violence against women with disabilities in all its forms. Other panellists were Mr. Aidan Leavy (Plan), Ana Pelaez (CRPD Committee member), Penny Williams (Global Ambassador for Women and Girls, Australia), Ms. Stephanie Ortoleva (President, Women Enabled) and Ms. Maryanne Diamond (representing IDA) as moderator of the event.

At the start of the event, Madame Bachelet expressed UN Women’s strong commitment to addressing vulnerable groups. Among these, she highlighted the multiple discrimination and violence faced especially by women and girls with disabilities. In discussing solutions to these problems, she noted a few of the steps that UN Women is currently taking. She further proposed a joint session between the committees for CEDAW and the CRPD to formally recognize the intersection between disability and gender. A Minister from Lao PDR later suggested also the inclusion of the committee for the Convention on the Rights of the Child in this session. The Ambassadors from Sweden and El Salvador strongly backed this proposal. They also brought attention to the upcoming High Level Meeting on Disability and Development and to the need to include women with disabilities in the post-2015 framework. Before Ms. Diamond made her concluding remarks, Madame Bachelet stated that another side of accessibility is inclusion, and stressed the crucial need to include the voices of women with disabilities in all stages of decision-making processes accompanying both policies and UN programming.

In the morning before IDA’s side event, Ms. Diamond was also able to attend a commemorative meeting entitled, “A promise is a promise: Time for action to end violence against women.” Madame Bachelet, chairing the event, introduced Ms. Diamond and allowed her to give the first statement from the floor. She used the opportunity to highlight the importance of including women with disabilities in all development programs. At the end of the event, Maryanne was also able to meet and shake hands with Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon, who had also spoken on the panel.

Contact: Orsolya Bartha at obartha [at]
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