"Indigenous women with disabilities believe that the violence and discrimination that we have been facing in our daily lives should not make us vulnerable and passive. But that we should raise our collective voices to be heard and demand our rights." - Pratima Gurung
Presentation made by Pratima Gurung, Indigenous Persons with Disabilities Global Network, at the 61st session of the Commission on Status of Women (CSW) at UN Headquarters in New York, March 16, 2017 – The Empowerment of Indigenous Women Interactive Dialogue.
I am Pratima Gurung, and I am speaking on behalf of the Indigenous Persons with Disabilities Global Network, which represents 185 million indigenous women and 45 million indigenous persons with disabilities all around the globe.
The situation of indigenous women and women with disabilities in many parts of the world continues to be critical due to these groups’ exposure to higher rates of violence.
Violence against indigenous women and girls with disabilities is intrinsically linked to indigenous peoples’ history of discrimination and marginalization. It is part of a continuum that spans interpersonal and structural forms of violence and inequality. – Pratima Gurung
As indigenous women with disabilities, our roles in the communities are lost in the name of colonization, assimilation, and segregation. The policies and practices endorsed by states in seeking to assimilate indigenous groups include the forced removal of indigenous children from their families into residential schools and escalate towards forced sterilisation, forced abortion, rape, female genital mutilation and other harmful practices.
The impact on women and girls with disabilities form a part of the intergenerational and historical trauma still contended with in many countries today.
It has been documented that women with disabilities are rendered more vulnerable to these practices: women with disabilities are more likely than other women to suffer violence, including sexual violence.
Every moment, every day, everywhere, we face subtle discrimination, assault, and harassment resulting in post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety, and grief along with psychosocial problems. We are often denied in private homes by our family members and in public institutions at large more often than nonindigenous women.
But where are these stories heard? Where are these documented? Despite the grave nature of these violations, access to justice and procedures remain out of reach for indigenous women and women with disabilities. Nor any studies, documents have been seriously carried out framing these detailed and comprehensive examinations of such violence.
We are reflecting on the twenty-year review of the implementation of the Beijing Declaration Platform for Action, the ten-year anniversary celebration of the adoption of UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, and the aspiration of 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development leaving no one behind.
The review, celebration, and aspiration reiterate the need for all of us to rethink what has worked and what needs to be done?
Indigenous women with disabilities believe that the violence and discrimination that we have been facing in our daily lives should not make us vulnerable and passive. But that we should raise our collective voices to be heard and demand our rights. – Pratima Gurung
As change makers, indigenous women have contributed as mediators and negotiators to make peace happen. In the same way, we want to assert the rights and the humanity of indigenous women and women with disabilities. As we move towards this goal, we must first acknowledge the comprehensive understanding and experiences of indigenous women.
Second, justice and law enforcement agencies must engage with evidence of the systematic and structural nature of violence through the creation and use of disaggregated data and documents on violence against women with disabilities.
Third and finally, intercultural approaches and collaboration across movements must be framed by developing strategies, then scaled up in a way that involves different stakeholders.
We want both the economic empowerment and the violence against indigenous women and women with disabilities to be visible in the Commission on the Status of Women document, and we also want policy measures to address them.
We are on a collective journey committing to nothing about us without us.
Indigenous Persons with Disabilities Global Network, the National Indigenous Disabled Women Association Nepal, and Disability Rights Fund Global Advisory Panel
- Indigenous Peoples