Women with Disabilities Australia created this toolkit, Human Rights Toolkit, to support women with disabilities to understand their rights. International human rights law recognizes women and girls with disability as women and girls with rights, able to make decisions about our own lives.
The Australian government has agreed to take action to make sure all women and girls with disability enjoy all the human rights described in the Conventions, Treaties, Covenants and Declarations it has agreed to or supported. Yet, very few of us know about our rights. Importantly, very few of us know how they are relevant to our life, and the lives of our families, friends, and communities. Learning about our human rights – what they are and how to have our rights respected – is important to achieve positive and lasting change for all women and girls with disability. We need to take action, individually and together, so that all of us can demand and enjoy our human rights.
How to Use this Toolkit
The Toolkit is divided into eight main sections, and also includes a number of Appendices at the end of the Toolkit.
- Section 1 ‘Introduction – Time for Change’ gives an introduction to this Toolkit and talks about why this Toolkit is needed to help improve the human rights of all women and girls with disability.
- Section 2 ‘Know the Issues: Key Human Rights Issues’ provides a brief overview of five key issues that women and girls with disability in Australia have identified as most important to them. These issues include: experiences of violence; involvement in meaningful decision-making; opportunities for participation; finding and keeping employment; and, sexual and reproductive rights. Women and girls with disability in Australia have told WWDA that although they have many issues of concern, they think these issues need urgent attention and action.
- Section 3 ‘Know your Rights: The History of Human Rights’ provides information about what human rights are. It looks at where ‘human rights’ came from, and how they are protected and monitored. This section also gives a brief overview about Australia’s international human rights obligations.
- Section 4 ‘Know your Rights: Women and Girls with Disability’ focuses on two of the international human rights treaties that are particularly important for all women and girls with disability. These two treaties are the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), which protects the rights of all people with disability, and the Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), which protects the rights of all women. This section explains, in practical language, the content of each of these treaties.
- Section 5 ‘Know your Rights: Understanding the CRPD and CEDAW’ examines the main ‘Article’ from both the CRPD and CEDAW, that deals with the important urgent issues that have been identified by women with disability in Australia, which are: Violence; Decision-Making; Participation; Sexual and Reproductive Rights; and, Employment. For each of these issues, this section of the Kit provides the words of the main Article (as it appears in the CRPD and CEDAW) and then explains in practical terms, what it means and gives examples of what governments have to know and do, in order to properly implement the particular article for women and girls with disability.
- Section 6 ‘Achieving Change: Human Rights’ provides information from WWDA members and our supporters about some of the key changes we believe need to happen to improve the human rights of women and girls with disability in the following areas: Violence; Decision-Making; Participation; Sexual and Reproductive Rights; and, Employment.
- Section 7 ‘Taking Action: A Human Rights Approach’ looks at many different ideas of what women and girls with disability can do – on their own and/or with others – to help achieve change and promote the rights of all women and girls with disability.
- Section 8 ‘Resources: Leading Change’ provides some sample letters and ‘talking points’ for phone calls, on the key issues that have been identified by women and girls with disability in Australia. These sample letters and ‘talking points’ have been included as a guide to use when writing a letter or making a phone call to a local Member of Parliament, or a government Minister or adviser. They can be adapted or changed to suit particular