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Include Disabled People in Your Feminism This IWD and Beyond

TW: Stats about domestic violence, abuse and austerity.

Today is International Womens Day, a day when we celebrate how far women have come and how much we have left to achieve.

Unfortunately one group often left out of that is disabled women. Although we’re one of the biggest minorities, disabled women are often left out of – or not even able to access – discussions about equality.

It seems ironic that on a day when we celebrate how far we’ve come since the suffragettes we rarely mention that a lot of disabled women don’t have the freedoms that were fought for.

Thanks to how benefits systems work, many disabled people can’t get married, live with their partners or own property. Due to barriers in society many of us still can’t pursue the careers we dream of or gain the education we desire.

When we exclude disabled women from boards, meetings, events, committees, groups and discussions it trickles down to every area of life.

The facts speak for themselves:

  • 7.6 million (23% of the general population) are disabled women.
  • Disabled women earn 11.8% less than disabled men and 22.1% less than non-disabled men.
  • 35% of disabled women (and 30% of disabled men) are paid below the National Living Wage in the UK.
  • 47 per cent of disabled people saw benefits reduced or stopped altogether when DLA switched to PIP. 55% of all claimants affected were women.
  • Disabled characters accounted for just 5.3% of leads and 4.7% of main casts in film and series on Netflix. Even worse only 2.1% of all speaking roles were disabled people.
  • Around 1 in 7 (14.1%) disabled adults aged 16 to 59 years experienced domestic abuse in the year ending March 2019, compared with 1 in 20 (5.4%) non-disabled adults.
  • Disabled and chronically ill women were almost three times as likely (17.3%) to experience some form of domestic abuse than non disabled or chronically ill women (7%).
  • SafeLives data reveals that disabled people typically experience abuse for an average of 3.3 years before accessing support, compared to 2.3 years for non-disabled people.
  • Even after receiving support, disabled victims were 8% more likely than non-disabled victims to continue to experience abuse.
  • One in two disabled women experience domestic violence in their lifetime.

Today, if you are nondisabled, you should be using your voice to ask the important questions. Is this event accessible to all? If not, why not? In your workplace you need to be addressing if there are enough disabled people being hired. If not, why not?

If you speak from a place of privilege you should be passing the mic to those who are less privileged.

If not, why not?

Sources:

Women’s Budget Group Briefing on Disabled Women and Austerity

SafeLives Disabled Survivors Too report

Crime Survey on Domestic Abuse in England and Wales

London School of Economics report on Double Discrimination

USC Anneberg report on Inclusion in Netflix Original U.S. Scripted Series & Films

Image Credit: Disabled and Here


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By Rachel Charlton-Dailey

Founder and Editor in Chief

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