Workshop on Disability and Gender Equality in Asia
Representatives from more than 30 Asian NGOs working on disability issues are participating in the workshop, organised by the NCHR and partners from the East Lake Institute for Social Advancement (EISA) in Seoul, South Korea.
Some of the participants discussing research and evidence based advocacy during a group work session. (Photo: UiO/Elisabeth Bjørnstøl)
Some local Asian civil society organisations working on disability issues are uncertain about how to address the layers of additional inequality that a person with disability can experience.
- This workshop seeks to enhance the understanding of the intersectionality of disability and gender and to facilitate inter-Asia exchange and networking on equality and non-discrimination efforts, Elisabeth Bjørnstøl, Head of Equality and Non-discrimination at the NCHR International Department, explains.
The workshop provided a useful platform for disability organisations from different Asian countries to share and discuss gender issues. Some disabled people are dependent on a lot of help from others and this can make them vulnerable. An important topic that was addressed was the difference between consentual sexual relationships and sexual abuse.
It is heartbreaking to hear about experiences with discrimination and abuse from several participants. Many stressed that disabled people do not always have the same opportunities and freedom as others to form consentual sexual relationships; or to express their desires and sexual orientation and gender identity as they want, says Bjørnstøl.
Providing tools to counter discrimination
One of the ongoing discussions at the workshop is how civil society can counter discrimination against people with disabilities in Asia, and how the organisations present at the workshop can mobilise the international human rights framework in their own work.
Several participants expressed that the experiences and lessons learned by the gender equality movement can be inspiring for the ongoing disability rights movement in Asia. It was also argued that advocacy should be more research and evidence based in order to be more effective. By sharing experiences, the organisations are also learning strategies from each other.
Upcoming seminar on tracking disability inclusion
This workshop is part of a long-term NCHR focus on disability in relation to gender equality and to sexual orientation and gender identity in Asia. The NCHR is also working with disability issues in other ways and are organising a seminar on Tracking Disability Inclusion in Norway's International Cooperation 6. December in collaboration with PLAN and the Atlas Alliance.