Directions for South Australia – Strong Women, Empowered Girls

“Education, empowerment, equal pay, and safety, we are failing too many women with disabilities in these areas.” – Kelly Vincent MLC

Introduction:

While the Dignity Party exists to serve all people it recognises the need to pay particular attention to the issues for women and girls with disabilities.

Article 6 of The United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities recognises: that women and girls with disabilities are subject to multiple levels of discrimination precisely because of their gender.

The Dignity Party believe that all women in South Australia are equal; regardless of their heritage, culture, sexuality, abilities or disabilities. (In relation to women and girls with disabilities) the Dignity Party says women and girls have the right to exercise choice and control over their lives.

Reproduction/Sterilisation: Women and girls often receive far more scrutiny for their reproductive choices then men with disabilities or women without disabilities. Women are girls are often sterilised without their knowledge, informed consent, and in some instances under coercion.  If women do have children, the children are likely to be removed from the woman.

Education/Employment: Not unlike other women in the workforce, women with disabilities are also victims of not only the pay gap, but also the job divide.  This is due in part to the reality that girls are often denied equal and adequate access to primary, secondary and tertiary education. A consequence of this is that women with disabilities have fewer employment opportunities and are therefore likely to remain living in lower socioeconomic circumstances.

Violence: women with disabilities are 2-3 times more likely to live in situations of violence.  As with women without disabilities this violence is often perpetrated by someone close to the woman; such as family members and carers. However, and because there can be many more people supporting the woman with disabilities, perpetrators can be extended to include; anyone who is paid to be in the lives of women with disabilities, such as support workers, health care professionals, transport providers, or in any other relationships where there is an obvious power imbalance.  Ninety percent of girls with intellectual disabilities are likely to be victims of rape before the age of eighteen.

Forms of violence perpetrated against women and girls include sexual assault and rape, physical abuse, social isolation, financial abuse, withholding of food/water or assistive devices such as wheelchairs, assistive technologies.

Similarly, to other women, women and girls are less likely to report that they are victims of violence through fear of repercussion. However, any repercussions for the woman reporting, might be the loss of basic daily support, or having to leave her home that caters for her specific needs.

Action:

In South Australia we must:

  • Respect the fact that Australia is a signatory to CEDAW and repeal laws that actively discourage or regulate the reproductive choices of women. This must extend to the unwarranted and excessive monitoring of mothers with disabilities.
  • Where necessary provide greater support to mothers with disability – if assistance is essential to welfare of either the mother or the infant.
  • Women and girls must be supported in making their own choices on the subject of reproduction. This must start with access to better school-based education around reproduction, self-awareness and self-respect.
  • Provide better supports for girls to obtain an equal and meaningful education so that as women they can participate in the workforce of their choice, and make equal contribution to society.
  • Provide more thorough support mechanisms for women with disabilities entering the workforce as this is one of the most under-employed groups in Australia.
  • Improve safeguards for women who report that they are victims of violence. Including increased access to domestic violence safe houses and services; increased ongoing support for women to find safe and supportive pathways away from perpetrators.
  • Provide safer accommodation options for women. This may include finding ways for them to stay in her own home, which may already be purpose built for her.
  • Ensure women’s voices are represented and heard at the ballot box.

Dignity Party OPPOSE the perception that people with disabilities always be considered as a single homogenous group.

Dignity Party PROPOSE that issues for women and girls be given the same recognition and attention as those for ALL women and girls.