written July 14th 2013
Last week the Disability Intergroup* of the European Parliament met for the launch of a new report on Women and Disability prepared by rapporteur Angelika Werthmann (MEP). In her introductory speech Ms Werthmann explained the initiative had sprung from a (non-disabled) women’s group concerned to further include disabled women in their focus, but that for her (and many in the womens group), disability was an entirely new subject so preparing the report had been a learning curve. Personally I felt a bit wary of what she might say initially, but then before she expanded her presentation she made a specific invitation to Intergroup members and attendees to consider sending her further amendments which would be factored in the final publication.
Her report highlights the specific barriers to full participation and inclusion in society faced by disabled women, and was warmly welcomed by all attending. A representative of the European Disability Forum congratulated Ms Werthmann’s research and the initiative taken , then suggested that the report include more explanation of the different ways in which disability has been modelled historically. Others agreed the paper was excellently researched and similarly noted that occasionally the social model perspective was not always applied, and some more attention here could improve what was a significant contribution. The Greek MEP finally reminded us all that austerity was hitting women and particularly disabled women harder, and more so in the southern EZ than the north.
Sisters of Frida member, Eleanor Firman, attended the meeting and is making contact with the Vice Chair of the Disability Intergroup (UK MEP Richard Howitt) regarding potential SoF amendments.
*The European Intergroups are cross-party committees of MEPs focussed on a common interest or concern – a bit like the All Party Parliamentary Groups we have in the UK).
– Eleanor Firman