UN Women statement on the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities


UN Women recognizes the unique and intersecting challenges that women with disabilities face. This makes it all the more critical that women with disabilities are fully represented on panels, committees, human rights treaty bodies and across all areas of leadership so that their voices are heard.

It is therefore regrettable that the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) will have just one female representative. The recent election process for nine positions resulted in all-male appointments for 2017, despite the candidature of three women for the positions and despite the terms of Article 34.4 of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities that “The members of the Committee shall be elected by States Parties, consideration being given to … balanced gender representation.”

UN Women joins the many voices that have expressed concern regarding the new composition of the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, in which the diverse voices and experiences of women with disabilities have been diminished. UN Women calls for no panel or committee to be assembled without the representation of women. The UN Global Compact made important advances in this area during the 60th session of the Commission on the Status of Women in March 2016, with the introduction of the UN Global Compact Panel Pledge, which urges men who are asked to serve on all-male panels to decline or to suggest a woman colleague instead.

The upholding of the principle of balanced gender representation is especially vital for women with disabilities, who often encounter multiple and intersecting forms of discrimination. It is estimated that one in five women lives with disability, and that the prevalence rate of disability for women (19.2 per cent) is higher than for men (12 per cent). These women are two to three times more likely to experience early and forced marriage, early pregnancy and female genital mutilation. Women and girls with disabilities also face unique educational, economic and political barriers.

UN Women hopes that States Parties, in close consultation with persons with disabilities and their representative organizations, will support the nomination of women to the CRPD to redress the current situation and achieve balanced gender representation in 2019. Additionally, UN Women invites the CRPD to continue to explore the intersectionality of gender and disability, including through the general recommendations of the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women.

Without adequate representation of women on panels and committees, the voices of half of the population are not being heard. Due to the inextricable nature of human rights and women’s rights, a balanced gender representation remains crucial to ensuring balanced and sustainable outcomes.