Women And Disability

Women with disabilities throughout the world often suffer from a “triple” discrimination: that of having a disability, of living in poverty, and of being female. Women with disabilities, especially in developing countries, are one of the most marginalized groups in the world.

Because of a lack of accessible schools, fear for women’s safety or simple neglect, many women with disabilities do not attend school or vocational training, leaving them unable to support themselves financially. Women with disabilities face mass discrimination because they cannot marry or work; many countries do not recognize the right of a woman with disability to have a family or inherit property.

The isolation that surrounds many women with disabilities is often  more debilitating than the actual disability itself – it considerably lowers a woman’s self esteem and prevents her from seeking medical attention, rehabilitation services, and education or vocational training. Finally women with disabilities are more vulnerable to physical and/or sexual abuse, due to the lack of sexual education they receive, having been portrayed as “sexless”.

The Symbol

We created the original International Symbol of Access in 1969

By the late 1960s, as the disability movement grew, the need for a symbol to designate accessible facilities was being discussed in a number of countries. Different access symbols had already popped up in France, Australia, Canada, the United Kingdom and the United States. As former RI Global Secretary-General Norman Acton recalled, “several of us could see a messy situation developing with multiple symbols – so there was some urgency.”

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The RI World Congress 2021 took place in Aarhus 7-9 September 2021.

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