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Women with Disabilities

Safeguarding the Rights of Women with Disabilities to Family Life, Work, and Protection from Gender-based Violence

Women with disabilities face additional barriers to their socioeconomic participation compared to men—with and without disabilities—as well as to women without disabilities, resulting in significant employment gaps and high exposure to gender-based violence. Laws around the world largely fail to protect the rights of women with disabilities to nondiscrimination, respect for family life, labor market inclusion, and a life free from violence. This Brief analyzes legal and policy data from 190 economies on the rights of women with disabilities and highlights promising practices where laws directly recognize and protect these needs, with the goal of informing policy reforms across the globe.

The Importance of Designing Gender and Disability Inclusive Laws : A Survey of Legislation in 190 Economies

Women with disabilities face additional barriers to their participation in the economy and society compared to men, with and without disabilities, and relative to nondisabled women, resulting in unequal parental rights, discrimination in their private life and the workplace, reduced employment opportunities, lower earnings, and high exposure to gender-based violence. The legal recognition of multiple forms of discrimination is a vital first step to address and, ultimately, enforce the human rights of women with disabilities and protect them from discriminatory practices. The law is thus one key element to achieve their full inclusion and enable societies to thrive in the long run. This Brief presents data collected by the World Bank’s Women, Business, and the Law project on the legal barriers that women with disabilities face when accessing economic opportunities in 190 economies. The new data suggest that only one-quarter of economies worldwide explicitly protect and promote the rights of women with disabilities.

Pilot Research on the Rights of Women with Disabilities

As part of the World Bank Group’s 10 Commitments on Disability-Inclusive Development, Women, Business and the Law introduced 4 new research questions in its 2020 data collection cycle to better understand the economic empowerment of women with disabilities. This pilot project assessed the overarching constitutional and legal frameworks on the protection of women with disabilities in 176 economies. The research was developed with the support of the World Bank's Environmental and Social Framework Implementation Support Unit.

World Bank Group's 10 Commitments on Disability-Inclusive Development

In July 2018, the World Bank Group made ten commitments to accelerate global action for disability-inclusive development in key areas, including women's economic empowerment.

Human Rights, Inclusion and Empowerment (HRIE) Umbrella Trust Fund

The work on women with disabilities is supported by the HRIE trust fund and aims to generate evidence for the design of gender and disability inclusive laws and policies.