Women with disabilities must be seen as agents of change in the post 2015 framework

Alba Gonzalez works with CBM as EU policy officer, she is a young woman with a disability from Madrid. In this interview she talk to CBM about what is important to her as a woman with a disability and the work she does to influence EU policy.

Tell us about your work in CBM and how you came to work as EU policy officer?

I was studying for a MA in Arabic studies and one day we were talking about the activities of the civil society organisations, during the Arab spring and I wondered about persons with disabilities. I became interested in human rights and persons with disabilities and after that I applied for the position in CBM. It is a very different to what I studied for. 

What in your opinion are the top three issues for women and girls with disabilities?

The first one is the inclusion of women and girls with disabilities in the new development framework. Sustainable development cannot be achieved if women with disabilities and indeed persons with disabilities are not included. Women have an important role in development, the role of being the mother of supporting the family and being centre of the family. The second one is to include women with disabilities in the labour market. Women with disabilities need to be economically independent. In most of the cases, women depend on men as men have the traditional role of taking the lead on the economic survival of the family. In that sense, women with disabilities need to take control over their own lives. For having this economic independence it is essential for women and girls with disabilities to get access to education and this would be my third issue.

How important is it that women with disabilities work in human rights and development?

I think for women with disabilities it is very important to have the opportunity to work in development. We can have a more comprehensive approach when we talk about non-discrimination and human rights. The fact that we work in development demonstrates that we have the capacity to develop the same skills as other women. We have the added value of our personal and professional perspective as women and from having a disability. 

What challenges do you think women and girls with disabilities face in gaining employment in the fields of human rights and development?

In general, the traditional image of women as them having a primary role in the family is one of the main challenges. Again education has demonstrated that if women are educated, we can develop our skills and ourselves.

What is your role in CBM as EU policy officer?

My role is to raise awareness of disability in development policy and from the perspective of women with disabilities, to raise awareness of the double discrimination that is faced. I also work on influencing gender policies, making sure that non-discrimination is important for all persons with disabilities and particularly women with disabilities. From a gender perspective I highlight important areas for women with disabilities such as access to justice, education and sexual and reproductive health.

Do you work with specific women’s organisations?

We work with the European Women’s lobby, though CONCORD and their task group focused on gender. We also link with the FEMME committee of the European Parliament.

How do you think women and girls will be included in the Sustainable Development goals?

I’d like to see disaggregated data on persons with disabilities and on women with disabilities. I would like to see also the economy focusing on building society through investment; so implementing the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities should be seen as an investment and not a cost. I would like to see women with disabilities as agents of changein the post 2015 framework.