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International Women’s Day

March 8, 2019

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Every year on March 8th, we celebrate International Women’s Day. this year’s theme is  #BalanceforBetter.  International Women’s Day is a global celebration of the social, political, and cultural achievements of women. This day also marks a call to action for accelerating gender balance. Additionally, this year’s theme seeks to promote a future where both men and women are equal in professional status, media perception, and the positions they hold in government and more. Women’s rights and equality has come a long way since the first observance of International Women’s Day, however, there is still a great deal to be accomplished in order to realize full equality. For example, women are still not receiving equal pay, and in many parts of the world, women and girls do not have access to education. This is even more evident when discussing women and girls with disabilities.

Today, the United States Council on Disabilities (USICD) staff,  Board of Directors, and its members join women and allied men globally to celebrate this momentous annual event. This year’s theme is a reminder that we as a society cannot progress without the inclusion of 50% of our population.

As a woman with a disability, I confront challenges when these two areas intersect. Women and girls with disabilities face widespread discrimination, human rights abuses, and marginalization in employment, health, education and political settings. In too many countries, fewer girls than boys attend school, fewer women than men participate in the parliaments of their countries, and women still struggle for economic equity. It is when gender and disability intersect that we see women and girls with disabilities who are twice excluded and twice marginalized. Women and girls with disabilities are left behind in the struggle for disability rights because the disability community does not always include gender specific concerns of women and girls. Similarly, they are left behind in the struggle for gender equality because the gender community does not always include the concerns of women and girls with disabilities.

If we really want to follow this year’s theme and reach true balance for all  then we must achieve the full participation of all women and all girls, including women and girls with disabilities. If we leave behind women and girls with disabilities when trying to realize equality in the global challenges of poverty, human rights, natural disasters, public health, and universal access to education, then this will be a world that will not progress.

Next week, I will be representing USICD at the 63rd session of the Commission on the Status of Women, or CSW. This will be the first time I am attending and I hope to see more disability inclusion in gender specific issues going forward. we cannot continue to leave behind our women and girls, especially with disabilities, when trying to achieve economic, cultural, and political balance. I hope to connect with leaders in both the gender and disability community next week in order to continue promoting and advocating for the rights and inclusion of women and girls with disabilities all around the world. Follow USICD on Twitter (@USICD) to receive highlights and updates from my experience at the CSW.

Vivian Fridas, USICD Program Manager

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