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Women and Disability

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  1. Women and Disability Ursula Barry School of Social Justice, Women’s Studies University College Dublin February 2008

  2. Women and disability • Focus on experiences and needs of women with disabilities • Challenge assumption that policies are gender neutral • Analyse the way inequalities in relation to gender and disability interact • Understand that women identify in different ways including as women, mothers, disabled, carers, workers, earners, cared for, students, part of community • Identify policy priorities in relation to government • Ensure organisation is inclusive of women with disabilities

  3. Women and Disability Key priorities • poverty and inequality • personal assistance and care issues • access to labour market & training • reproductive and sexual freedoms • communication barriers

  4. Women with Disabilities • Important development – new emphasis Social model of disability – focus on the social, economic and physical environment and issues of inclusion-exclusion Rights-based approach – right to equality of treatment and of opportunity

  5. Women and Disability Poverty and inequality • 58% of women (and 52%) of men with disabilities are at risk of poverty (EU-SILC 2003) • People with disabilities earn around EURO1.25 per hour less than non-disabled counterparts (Gannon and Nolan 2005) • 46% of people with disabilities have only primary level educational qualifications compared to 18% of the population as a whole • Average employment rate for people with disabilities is two and a half times lower than their non-disabled peers (Census 2002) • Paid employment among disabled women is at an extremely low level ranging from 20% in older age groups to 30% in younger age group (Census 2002)

  6. Women and Disability Personal Assistance and Care Issues • Families are primary care providers and women are main carers facilitating community based systems of care • Development of paid care sector in Ireland is based mainly on women’s increased involvement in paid work and new sector of migrant women • Women as main providers of care suffer from inadequacy of funding, training for and design of care programmes • Public policy on care can intensify gender inequalities and dependency e.g. means testing of carer’s allowance • High care needs are disproportionately associated with low income households

  7. Women and Disability Personal Assistance and Care Issues • Women with disabilities are both care-providers as well as care-receivers but rarely seen as such • Disabled researchers and activists have challenged concepts of care that view disabled women as a ‘burden’ and contribute to the denial of caring rights to women with disabilities • Women with disabilities deny themselves practical help and supports in order to ensure they are accepted as carers • Care policy often fails to distinguish between the role of carer and the carrying out of caring tasks • Direct payments to care receiver are central to issues of choice, quality of care, flexibility and independence

  8. Women and Disability Labour Market Access • High level of disadvantage evident • Narrow range of employment opportunities reflects high level of occupational segregation • Significant level of care responsibilities • Variation according to type of disability • Personal assistance supports in training and employment contexts • Lack of access to employment services • High level of part-time and low paid employment

  9. Women and Disability Reproductive and sexual freedoms • Prevalence of negative attitudes and stereotypes • Need for resources and support systems • Development of specific programmes for young people with disabilities - review of Relationship and Sex Education Programme in secondary schools • Disability awareness training within health and social services • Development of specialised midwife training • Review of personal assistance training

  10. Women and Disability Communication barriers • Potential for assistive technologies in range of employment and educational arena has not been realised • Lack of resources towards the provision of key facilities e.g. sign interpreters • Importance of disability awareness training • Increased funding towards adaptive equipment