What to Ask Federal Election Candidates about Women with Disability?

Will your party support the following measures which would have a positive effect on women with disabilities:

The re-establishment of the Court Challenges Program for equality rights test case litigation?

Both CCD and DAWN/RAFH Canada intervened in cases that were supported by the Court Challenges Program. Women and people with disabilities are named in Section 15 (Equality Rights) of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

The expansion of Employment Insurance Sickness Benefits to 52 weeks of coverage?

Women with disabilities have a higher incidence of chronic or episodic disabilities thus would benefit from these extra weeks of coverage because preexisting medical conditions often mean women do not qualify for short term disability insurance or women have not been in the workforce long enough to accrue benefits. The economic downturn has also led to increased contract employment which again precludes access to benefits.

Making the Government of Canada a model employer, both in its hiring and disability accommodation practices and achieving the goal of equitable representation of people with disabilities at all levels of the federal public service?

Women are slightly more likely than men to report disability (53.2% vs. 46.8%) and are generally less likely to be employed than men, which is in part due to child-rearing and elder care responsibilities which fall disproportionately to women.

The development of a National Action Plan to implement the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), including women and girls with disabilities.

The CRPD takes an inclusive approach to gender. Some examples of how the CRPD addresses gender:

Article 6 of the CRPD addresses the issues of women with disabilities stating, “1. States Parties recognize that women and girls with disabilities are subject to multiple discrimination, and in this regard shall take measures to ensure the full and equal enjoyment by them of all human rights and fundamental freedoms. 2. States Parties shall take all appropriate measures to ensure the full development, advancement and empowerment of women, for the purpose of guaranteeing them the exercise and enjoyment of the human rights and fundamental freedoms set out in the present Convention.”

Article 16 (Freedom from exploitation, violence and abuse) states, “1. States Parties shall take all appropriate legislative, administrative, social, educational and other measures to protect persons with disabilities, both within and outside the, from all forms of exploitation, violence and abuse, including their gender-based aspects... ”

Article 25 (Health) states, “States Parties recognize that persons with disabilities have the right to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of health without discrimination on the basis of disability. States Parties shall take all appropriate measures to ensure access for persons with disabilities to health services that are gender-sensitive, including health-related rehabilitation. In particular, States Parties shall: (a) Provide persons with disabilities with the same range, quality and standard of free or affordable health care and programmes as provided to other persons, including in the area of sexual and reproductive health and population-based public health programmes…”

An inclusive and accessible approach to child care, care giving, housing, measures to prevent violence against women?

We are moms; we are caregivers; we experience spousal abuse; we are renters and home owners. We are also women with disabilities. Women with disabilities need to see themselves reflected in the election platforms of all Canada’s Federal Parties. Investment in women makes good economic sense because women are the major purchasers for their homes and families. The needs of women with disabilities do not change in response to economic trends. Because we usually live below the poverty line (or near it) 100% of our incomes are turned to local economies.

The renewal and expansion of the Social Development Partnerships Disability Program?

This program supports the organizations of women with disabilities and organizations which address the issues of both men and women with disabilities.

The renewal and expansion of the Status of Women Canada?

This program is vital to the organizations of women and women with disabilities in Canada. Status of Women Ministries need to be restored within the provinces as well. They provide invaluable assistance to enhancing the lives of women and their families across Canada.

Poverty reduction measures which are inclusive of women with disabilities?

DAWN/RAFH Canada’s fact sheet on Women with Disabilities and Poverty explains that:

“One third of Canadian women with disabilities live below the poverty line.

Twenty-five percent of people living in low-income households are people with disabilities.

A woman with disabilities lives with an average of $8,360.000 a year while a man with disabilities lives with an average of $19,250.00.

24% of women with disabilities aged 65 and over lived in a low-income situation, more than twice the figure for senior men with disabilities, 11% of whom had low incomes.

The low income rate for persons with severe/very severe disabilities is 27.5 percent for women and 16.4 percent for men in the same category.

Women with disabilities were three times more likely to rely on government programs than women without disabilities and more likely than men with disabilities.

21.3% of lone parents with disabilities, who are mostly women, have incomes below the poverty line compared with 18.4% of lone parents without disabilities.

Social disadvantages, such as income insecurity may be viewed to affect their ability to parent.

Disability-related expenditures for medications, services, assistive technologies which are not covered by public health insurance impose an additional financial burden on women with disabilities.

Inadequate housing put women with disabilities in dangerous situations such as developing serious health problems and forcing them to stay with an abusive partner.

One study indicates that all of the public disability benefits programs available in Ontario fail to provide adequate support to disabled people, in many cases, allowing them to become homeless."

(Source: DAWN/RAFH Canada. Women with Disabilities and Poverty. For in-depth information on the issues of women with disabilities, please consult the DAWN/RAFH Canada web site .)

Acknowledgment: “What to Ask Federal Election Candidates about Women with Disability?” was developed collaboratively by DAWN/RAFH Canada and CCD.

DAWN-RAFH Canada is a national bilingual cross-disability organization for women with disabilities. Our mission is to end the poverty, isolation, discrimination and violence experienced by women with disabilities. 25 years in service to women with disabilities!