Women with Disabilities (Article 3 and 6)

Despite the high numbers of women and girls with disabilities - especially in developing countries - many women with disabilities report feeling invisible in the development context and largely absent from the development agenda. Even when gender considerations are incorporated into development projects, the specific perspectives and needs of women and girls with disabilities are seldom sought or incorporated.


Achievement of the Millennium Development Goals (end poverty and hunger; universal education; gender equality; child health; maternal health; combat HIV/AIDS; environmental sustainability; global partnership) relies upon the full inclusion of women and girls. Women and girls cannot be said to be fully included where women and girls with disabilities are not meaningfully involved and their specific issues not taken into account.

  • women with disabilities make up a sizeable proportion of the global population, and a majority of the population of persons with disabilities in developing countries. Although firm statistics have been difficult to acquire, current researches estimate that:

    • Women with disabilities make up at least 10% of all women globally (WHO)

    • Women with disabilities comprise three quarters of all disabled people in low and middle-income countries (USAID)

    • 65-70% of women with disabilities in low and middle-income countries live in rural areas (USAID)

    • Women in general are more likely than men to become disabled because of poorer working conditions, poor access to quality healthcare, and gender-based violence (ILO)

    • Only 25% of women with disabilities are in the global workforce (UN)

    • Because of increased risk of gender-based violence and lack of access to reproductive health care services, women with disabilities face unique challenges in preventing HIV infection (WB)

    • Literacy rates for women with disabilities globally may be as low as 1% (UNDP)

    • Mortality rates amongst girls with disabilities are much higher than for boys with disabilities (USAID, UNICEF)

How does the CRPD address women and girls with disabilities?

  • Given the size of the population of women and girls with disabilities, and given the multiple types of discrimination typically faced by women and girls with disabilities, the CRPD drafters felt it vital to include an article expressly dedicated to this important group. Article 6 is included with other articles of general application, meaning that its provisions should be taken into account in the interpretation and implementation of all other substantive obligations in the CRPD.

  • Article 6 is relatively short in length, and adopts a principled approach, calling on States Parties to, for example, “take all appropriate measures to ensure the full development, advancement and empowerment of women.”

  • In addition to Article 6, issues of particular relevance to women and girls with disabilities are addressed throughout various articles of the CRPD. For example, gender-based concerns are referenced in Article 3 (General principles), Article 16 (Freedom from exploitation, violence and abuse), Article 25 (Health), and Article 28 (Adequate standard of living and social protection).

Article 6 - Women with disabilities

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.

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