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Procedure : 2006/2277(INI)
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Document selected : A6-0075/2007

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PV 26/04/2007 - 5
CRE 26/04/2007 - 5

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PV 26/04/2007 - 8.4
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Thursday, 26 April 2007 - Strasbourg Final edition
The situation of women with disabilities in the EU

European Parliament resolution of 26 April 2007 on the situation of women with disabilities in the European Union (2006/2277(INI))

The European Parliament ,

–   having regard to the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities adopted by the UN General Assembly on 13 December 2006,

–   having regard to the Manifesto of Disabled Women in Europe adopted on 22 February 1997 by the European Disability Forum,

–   having regard to the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union(1) ,

–   having regard to European Year of Equal Opportunities for All (2007),

–   having regard to Article 13 of the Treaty establishing the European Community,

–   having regard to the Commission Communication entitled 'Equal Opportunities for People with Disabilities: a European Action Plan' (COM(2003)0650),

–   having regard to Rule 45 of its Rules of Procedure,

–   having regard to the report of the Committee on Women's Rights and Gender Equality (A6-0075/2007),

A.   whereas in the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (the Convention) it is recognised that women and girls with disabilities are often at greater risk, both within and outside the home, of violence, injury or abuse, neglect or negligent treatment, maltreatment or exploitation,

B.   whereas the Convention also emphasises the need to incorporate a gender perspective in all efforts to promote the full enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms by persons with disabilities,

C.   whereas the Convention recognises the right of all persons with disabilities who are of marriageable age to marry and to start a family,

D.   whereas nearly 80 per cent of women with disabilities are victims of psychological and physical violence and whereas the risk of sexual violence is greater for them than for other women; whereas violence is not only a common feature of the lives of women with disabilities but is also sometimes the cause of their disability,

E.   whereas persons with disabilities constitute a diverse population group, and actions designed to support them must take into account both this diversity and the fact that some groups, such as women with disabilities, face additional difficulties and multiple discrimination,

F.   whereas, according to research carried out in the Member States, it is the mothers of disabled children in particular who take steps (medical, educational, administrative, etc.) aimed at finding out about their child's disability and finding the best solutions for tackling it,

G.   whereas responsibility for disabled and dependent persons is usually taken on by women and this means, in certain cases where there are no appropriate care facilities, that they must leave the labour market,

H.   whereas both the EU institutions and the Member States' central and regional authorities should take action designed to ensure that equality for all is real and effective, and whereas the Year of Equal Opportunities for All (2007) should serve as a catalyst for this,

I.   whereas women with disabilities suffer multiple discrimination on the grounds of sex, race, impairment and disability and are at greater risk of poverty and social exclusion,

J.   whereas the equal treatment of women with disabilities and mothers of children with disabilities is a fundamental human right and an ethical obligation,

1.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States to ensure the removal of existing barriers and obstacles, including architectural barriers, with a view to creating equal rights and opportunities for women and girls with disabilities to play a part in family, political, cultural, social and professional life, particularly through better implementation of Community anti-discrimination and gender-equality legislation and better use of the opportunities provided by relevant Community programmes and the European Social Fund;

2.  Calls on the Member States to take full account of the needs of persons with disabilities and the special needs of women in all national, regional and local policies, particularly those relating to town planning, education, employment, housing, transport, health and social services;

3.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States to adopt and implement the necessary measures to support women with disabilities so that they may progress in those areas of social life and the world of work, culture and politics in which they are still underrepresented;

4.  Calls on national and regional governments to promote and fund, with adequate resources, innovative policies and services addressing gender and disability, in particular regarding personal assistance, mobility, health, education, training, lifelong learning, employment, independent living and social security;

5.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States to put in place effective legislation and policies focusing on women and children which will ensure that instances of exploitation, violence against and sexual abuse of persons with disabilities – within their places of residence and elsewhere – are identified and investigated and, where appropriate, lead to prosecution; suggests that, in that context, particular attention be paid to women with disabilities whose disability prevents them from representing themselves and that preventive measures be drawn up to eliminate any differences between the rights of disabled women and those of other women as regards their personal physical integrity and their sexual expression;

6.  Is shocked at the fact that women with disabilities are three times as likely to be the victims of violence as women without disabilities and calls therefore for the Daphne Programme to be used also to combat this type of violence;

7.  Emphasises the importance of actively combating the segregation from childhood onwards of people with disabilities;

8.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States to promote pilot schemes and tried and tested procedures for integrative establishments from kindergarten, school and training to professional life;

9.  Stresses the need for the European Union to take all possible steps, including legislative action, to streamline its aid system and make more funding available for women and children with disabilities;

10.  Calls on the Member States to address the lack of adequate health care for women with disabilities by providing specialist medical staff and appropriate infrastructures;

11.  Calls on the Commission, in conjunction with the competent national authorities, to investigate the particular health and medical care problems suffered by women with disabilities, focusing on prevention and information;

12.  Considers there to be a relationship between disability and a lower level of educational achievement which subsequently affects employment rates amongst disabled people;

13.  Expresses its concern at the fact that women with disabilities have lower levels of educational achievement, which makes it more difficult for them to gain access to, stay in and be promoted in the labour market; considers that people with disabilities must be given the same opportunities to study and must have a right of access to the labour market so that they can support themselves; considers that women and girls with disabilities should be encouraged to seek education and employment on the basis of their resources and interests rather than of what they are lacking;

14.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States to foster implementation of the principle of universal access in the environment and to goods and services, so that women with disabilities may enjoy as much autonomy as possible;

15.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States, in view of the fact that, in many situations, ITC facilities are a fundamental instrument for the integration of persons with a disability, to draw up appropriate measures to eliminate the digital divide between the sexes, so that women with disabilities may have access to ITC facilities and benefit from them under equal conditions with men;

16.  Believes that, with a view to improving access to the labour market for persons with disabilities and enabling them to become more active and develop their abilities, use should be made of all possible incentive measures, including tax incentives, to encourage employers to take on persons with disabilities and tailor working hours to the needs of parents bringing up children with disabilities;

17.  Calls on the Commission and Member States, in their efforts to increase the employment of women with disabilities, to prevent discrimination by employers in connection with the appointment of women with disabilities;

18.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States to incorporate flexibility into matters relating to disability in recognition of the fact that every disabled person has different needs, in order that, in a diverse community of citizens, assistance can be tailored to each individual situation;

19.  Considers that the measures created should be geared towards greater integration;

20.  Points out that it is women who, in most cases, care for people with disabilities, and hence considers it necessary to develop measures to raise social awareness in order to ensure that men too are involved in this task;

21.  Calls upon the Commission and the Member States to seek to make responsibility for the care and participation of people with disabilities the responsibility of society as a whole rather than that only of the families of persons with disabilities and to take into account, when devising policies, the particular dedication of women who are responsible for persons with disabilities and the situation of those persons – often relatives – who take responsibility for persons with disabilities; considers it important to reiterate the fact that this work is mainly done by women and that women are therefore particularly affected by cuts in public care services, both as paid carers and as relatives;

22.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States to draw up the necessary measures to assist the work of families and organisations that support both people with disabilities and their families;

23.  Considers that various support measures must be proposed so that both people with disabilities and their families can live normal lives on the same terms as people without disabilities and their families, as well as support measures for those – often relatives – who take economic and social responsibility for people with disabilities who, in many cases, require total dedication, something which isolates them and necessitates support at many levels; notes that, as things currently stand, women bear a large share of such responsibilities, both paid and unpaid; considers it self-evident that this is not a task primarily for one sex or the other and that the view that this is a responsibility for women should be actively combated;

24.  Proposes that Member States should harmonise municipal regulations governing parking for the disabled and consider whether to reduce transport fares for those who accompany disabled persons;

25.  Considers that one of the main objectives which the European Union should set itself is to improve the quality of life of disabled people and their families and ensure that they are fully integrated into society;

26.  Stresses the need to raise the profile and improve the image of women with disabilities in the media, which will make the general public more aware of their daily lives and give them greater opportunities to express themselves and take part in social and political life;

27.  Stresses how important it is for Member States to recognise the self-evident right of women with disabilities to their own sexual expression and their right to start a family;

28.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States to put in place legislation ensuring independent living for disabled women and men, acknowledging that this is a fundamental right that must be respected;

29.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States to ensure that children, young people and adults with disabilities enjoy the necessary conditions for independence and self-determination and, in so doing, to devote special attention to equality issues;

30.  Recognises that even in relation to existing independent-living services and health services disabled women experience discrimination in access;

31.  Highlights the role played by the education of children of both sexes in the building of the society of the future, and stresses that efforts must be made in order to gear it towards ensuring that disability is not an obstacle to their playing a part in society on the basis of the same rights and opportunities, with a view to fostering a framework for cooperation, integration and disability awareness-raising at school, the latter being an indispensable tool for making this a reality;

32.  Stresses the important role of non-governmental organisations working with disabled women and calls on the Commission and the Member States to support them;

33.  Stresses the need for recent data broken down by gender to be gathered on the subject of disability and for research to be carried out using gender equality indicators in order to discover the real situation of women and girls with disabilities;

34.  Stresses the need to ensure care for the reproductive health of women with disabilities, paying attention to aspects such as family planning, health services and information about motherhood, so that they may be able to establish relationships that are equitable, responsible and satisfying;

35.  Takes the view that EU policy should give employers' organisations, trade unions and non-governmental organisations greater encouragement to devise more effective means of assisting persons with disabilities;

36.  Calls on the Commission to facilitate the creation of a network for disabled women across the European Union and in candidate countries, allowing for the exchange of best practices, capacity-building and empowerment;

37.  Highlights the need for free access to the new audiovisual media for women with disabilities;

38.  Reminds the Commission that thorough knowledge of this matter and of the 'social model of disability',which focuses on society's barriers, as opposed to the 'medical model of disability', which deals only with the medical aspects of disability, is the proper basis for providing solutions, services and support, for devising policies, for assigning resources and for measuring the impact of policies on the situation of persons with disabilities;

39.  Reminds the Member States that their collaboration in advancing and improving the situation of women and girls suffering from any kind of disability is of fundamental importance;

40.  Calls on the Member States to promote citizens" initiatives aimed at supporting those with disabilities;

41.  Recalls the importance of the social partners, business and civil society, and in particular organisations of women and of parents of children with disabilities, in promoting and furthering equal opportunities, access to employment and lifelong learning for people with disabilities that has due regard for special needs;

42.  Pays homage to the work of parents" associations, usually created and run by the mothers of children with disabilities, who, via their organisations and Internet sites, compile information (on specialised medical centres and regulations on education, social security, etc.) thereby helping other parents and raising the awareness of the public authorities;

43.  Calls on the Member States to report to the European Parliament and Commission on the situation of women and girls with disabilities as they do in their country reports and on the measures which they have taken to comply with the UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women;

44.  Considers that disabilities should be regarded as a natural phenomenon which is part of everyday life, and not as a deviation from it; notes that there will always be citizens with disabilities and that it is therefore self-evident that disabilities are an integral part of society;

45.  Believes that it ought itself promote greater development and exploitation of technology and facilities to eliminate environments that are hostile to disabled persons; considers that development work should be based on the fact that men and women sometimes have different needs;

46.  Calls on the Commission and Member States to promote equality of living conditions for girls and boys and women and men with disabilities;

47.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission, the governments and parliaments of the Member States, the Council of Europe and the Secretary-General of the United Nations.

(1) OJ C 364, 18.12.2000, p. 1.

Last updated: 9 September 2008Legal notice