for the formation of a European network, to function as an organisation of women with disabilities,
Berlin 2nd - 4th May 2007
We, 105 women present from 17 countries have come together to form a European network of disabled girls and women.
We hereby declare that
the growing strength of the women's and girls with disabilities movement in Europe gives us courage;
we have joined together as a European networking organisation in order to be better able to fight for our rights
We see ourselves as an independent pan disability women's and human rights organisation.
We cordially invite all women and girls with disabilities and/or chronically illnesses to join us in order to:
- be able to share experiences and information to network and to support each other;
- to uncover the specific issues concerning disabled women and girls and achieve their consideration;
- jointly carry out campaigning work;
- have our human rights protected and respected;
- be considered in the implementation of already existing European and UN conventions (e.g. CEDAW);
- get the new Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities ratified and implemented; women with disabilities have to receive an important role herein;
- have our own as well as important voice within the women's and the disability movements;
- be represented in the significant bodies and committees at local, national and international levels.
The living conditions of women with disabilities in Europe vary greatly. However, due to similar structures which cause discrimination, women with disabilities all over Europe are still subjected to some considerable violations of their human rights. These are irrespective of age, ethnic origin, sexual orientation, legal status, social status and religious or political beliefs. Women and girls with disabilities are still invisible with regard to politics and society. We are fighting against the multiple discriminations on the grounds of our gender and our disability.
By signing and then ratifying the new UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, European countries will agree to a legal obligation.
We are demanding the right to independent living and are therefore asking for the following:
In relation to politics
- ratification and implementation of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities as soon as possible. Additionally, the special protocol must be signed and ratified as soon as possible (women with disabilities must play an important part in this process);
- funding for peer counselling advice (Empowerment) for women and girls with disabilities delivered by women and girls with disabilities;
- funding for the European organisation of women with disabilities for the improvement of their living conditions and the enforcement of their human rights in Europe;
- promotion of the establishment of organisations of women with disabilities at national and European levels;
- representation of women with disabilities on all bodies and committees at all levels (local, regional, national, international).
In relation to education
- full access to as well as accessible supply of all education and training facilities;
- personal assistance in the area of education (school/university and training);
- free choice of education and training establishments;
- the right to inclusive education at all stages of life.
In relation to employment
- accessible workplaces
- equal pay for equal work
- rehabilitation services near to home
- promotion of employment of women with disabilities (including free choice of profession)
- flexible models of work (e.g. full time/part time job share, etc)
In relation to sexuality
- the right to self-determined sexuality and relationships as well as to same sex way of living. This includes appropriately designed education about the own sexuality.
In relation to violence
- the right to a life without any form of violence (e.g. in institutions);
- protection of women and girls with disabilities against sexual exploitation, prostitution and forced marriage;
- prevention of sexualised violence through classes in self-defence and assertiveness for women girls and with disabilities;
- advice and support for women with disabilities affected by violence in accessible women's advice centres and women's refuges. Staff in these centres have to be trained by female disabled experts. These jobs must be government funded;
- the right to refuse certain examinations, treatments and therapies.
In relation to bioethics
- a right to life for all;
- forced sterilisations and terminations must be prohibited.
In relation to assistance
- a legally binding entitlement to personal assistance/care for women and girls with disabilities throughout Europe. This must be non-means tested and tailored to individual need in order to ensure an independent lifestyle (this also includes a legal entitlement to sign language interpreting as well as assistance with self-advocacy of women with learning difficulties, etc);
- a right to choose the carer/assistant by gender;
- personal assistance with hospital stays, convalescences and rehabilitation courses;
- personal work-assistance:
- personal assistance for disabled mothers as well as for family duties (disabled parents must not be reliant on the assistance of their children).
In relation to family
- the right of all women with disabilities to have a family and be mothers, irrespective of the type of their disability. They must be enabled to carry out their duties with regard to bringing up children and looking after the family in a self-determined way (e.g. through non-means tested funding of appropriate equipment);
- equal opportunities in comparison to non disabled women for women with disabilities if they wish to become mothers by way of adoption.
In relation to health provision
- full access to all forms of health provision;
- consideration of the issues that are specific to women in the areas of research, training and health provision (including psychiatry and treatment programmes for chronically illnesses);
- the consideration of aspects that are disability-specific (e.g. in the area of gynaecology);
- informed consent prior to any healthcare procedure;
- to be treated with respect.
In relation to poverty
- prevention of poverty of women and girls with disabilities.
We are demanding the realisation of our civil and human rights, as well as equal participation at all levels. We are determined to achieve this.