Submitted by Dianne Glenn, Past President of BPW NZ and a member of NCWNZ

Contact details- Address: 59 East Street, Pukekohe. 2120. Email: dglenn@ihug.co.nz

Having attended the consultation meeting in Auckland to gain input to the NZ Government’s Universal Periodic Review (2013-14), I am committed to record and submit my observations on a  topic of which I have an interest. The one for which I have been an advocate for several years, but am currently researching for National Council of Women New Zealand (NCWNZ) and Business and Professional Women New Zealand (BPW NZ), is “Women with Disabilities”. The information gained from communicating with some 30-40 organisations/agencies that service/support people with disabilities and individuals who are disabled, will contribute to the NCWNZ Collated Alternative NGO Report to the CEDAW Monitoring Committee.

This is in response to the Concluding Observations of the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women, to the New Zealand Government’s 7th Periodic Report. These observations identified five groups of disadvantaged women that included women with disabilities.

Clause 35 : The Committee is concerned about the situation of disadvantaged groups of women, including women with disabilities, who may be more vulnerable to multiple forms of discrimination with respect to education, health, social and political participation and employment. As noted in the report of the State party, disabled women are disproportionately represented among those who lack qualifications, those who do not work, and those on low incomes. The Committee is further concerned that there are few education and employment programmes targeted at women and girls with disabilities.  

The Concluding Observations recommended that the NZ Government (Clause 36): Provide in its next report, data and information on the situation of women with disabilities, including with regard to their access to education, employment and health-care services.

The Committee also urges the NZ Government, in the implementation of its obligations under the Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women, (CEDAW) to fully utilise the Beijing Declaration and the Platform for Action, which reinforce the provisions of CEDAW, and requests the Government to include information thereon in its next periodic report. Within these two documents, there are some 27 paragraphs that mention women with disabilities (WWD) and girls with disabilities (GWD) and even though there is not a specific Article in CEDAW on Women and Girls with Disabilities, they are included in the General Recommendations that stand beside the Convention. A full report of the 15 year review of the Platform for Action and the Beijing Declaration, by the International Network of Women with Disabilities (INWWD) can be viewed on www.internationaldisabilityalliance.org/advocacy-work , click on Working Groups then International Network of Women with Disabilities, to view Documents then select the 15-year Review on the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action (2010). A second document reports on Violence against Women with Disabilities (2010)

Recommendation to the NZ Government in its 2nd Universal Periodic Review, refer to the recommendations of the CEDAW Monitoring Committee and report how Government is addressing the issues regarding Women with Disabilities. The Committee has requested a Follow-up to its Concluding Observations (Clause 43) – Quote “The Committee requests the State party to provide, within two years, written information on the steps undertaken to implement the recommendations contained in Clause 36”. This will be 2014 so this should also be included in the 2014 UPR.


The New Zealand Universal Periodic Review (UPR) 2010 to The General Assembly of United Nations,  Human Rights Council – 12th Session

Since attending the meeting in Auckland, I have downloaded information on the NZ Government’s previous UPR and in particular the UPR Progress Chart on the NZ Response to Recommendations of the General Assembly, Human Rights Council and the Work completed by 2011.

In the General Assembly’s recommendations, there are acknowledgements of issues affecting people with disabilities and recommendations about addressing discrimination against, or impediments that prevent people with disabilities from enjoying their human rights. There is no particular recommendations concerning women with disabilities and yet there are many reports of women with disabilities being significantly disadvantaged.

Recommendation 28 (from the Netherlands) : (New Zealand to) “Further strengthen its actions to ensure that the economic and social rights of vulnerable persons are protected, especially………….. people with disabilities, and ensure that special attention is given to these persons with a view to including them fully in society”.

The NZ Government accepted this and has reported in Work Completed by 2011, (i) The Mainstream Employment Programme provides a package of subsidies, training and other support to help people with significant disabilities get work in the State Sector; (ii) The “Take a Moment” campaign aims to make people with an intellectual disability feel included in society and change perceptions about people with intellectual disabilities; (iii) Over the next three years, New Zealand is aiming to bring promotion, protection and monitoring of the rights of persons with disabilities into line with the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities; (iv) The Government announced the launch of the Lifetime Design standard in May 2010. The Lifetime Design standard promotes and licences designs that incorporate features that make them easy to adapt, particularly to the needs of disabled and older family members.   

Recommendation 46 (from Nigeria): Commit more resources to the provision of services for children with disabilities.

This was accepted and the Work completed provides the programmes in place in NZ to improve the lives of children with disabilities, particularly in the education and health sectors.

It is recommended that the New Zealand Government in its 2014 Universal Periodic Review, report on the success or otherwise of (i) The “Mainstream Employment Programme” with particular reference to improving the  employment opportunities for women with disabilities; (ii) the “Take a Moment” campaign with particular reference to improving the social status of women with intellectual disabilities; (iii) the three year promotion of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD) and (iv) progress on the “Lifetime Design” standard and how this has improved housing quality for women with disabilities, especially those who are parents and providing the security and comforts of  a home for a family. 

It is recommended, in response to reports of few educational courses suitable for girls with disabilities, that the Government seek suitable courses that lead to suitable employment and/or higher education, report on any progress on work under way, and progress on work undertaken in the health sector.

The NZ Human Rights Commission Summary of Human Rights in NZ (2010) in reporting for the UPR, included Chapter (17) on People with Disabilities. The Commission stated that “Disabled people are among the most marginalised in New Zealand. In fundamental areas such as employment, education, an adequate standard of living and accessible public transport, disabled people are significantly disadvantaged. Government policy has moved towards providing strategies, policies and funding to meet these challenges, but progress is slow.” Progress was identified but “There remain however, significant issues in supported living services, education, employment, health and transport, as well as relation to the participation of disabled people in decisions that affect them.”   This chapter identifies that an Area for Action is for the Government to ratify the Optional Protocol to the UNCRPD. This has not yet occurred.

Chapter 18 : Identifies  the Rights of Women, and includes the Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) as the Treaty to prevent obstacles to the participation of women, on equal terms with men. However, Chapter 18 reports that women who are members of marginalised groups, including disabled women, often suffer from multiple disadvantages and therefore require additional human rights protections. As with other minorities such as those from different ethnicities, analysis of the progress of women with disabilities across a range of areas lacks visibility, because of the inadequate collection of, and disaggregation of data. This includes lack of data on the level of domestic violence/abuse against people with disabilities, but particularly women with disabilities which is reputed through anecdotal evidence to be much greater than that against non-disabled women. (Refer to INWWD Report 2010 as referred to, on page 1, under the CEDAW summary – last line)

In an article in the New Zealand publication “Without Limits” December 2006) the CEO of CCS, Viv Maidaborn, released the results of a British Crime survey that found that disabled women are twice as likely to experience domestic violence as non-disabled women, and they are likely to experience this over a longer period of time. She maintains that the situation in New Zealand reflects these statistics and confirms that “women with disabilities are subject to the same risks as all women, and like all women require strong, extended networks. However, disabled women who are victims of violence often find the support services limited, as the already stretched refuges and counselling services are rarely able to specifically accommodate their needs. We need to plan for more accessible services for disabled women and their children.” Following this statement I researched information about refuges or safe housing for women with disabilities and found there was one only in New Zealand. I have recently learned of a second one that is a privately owned by a Trust. Both are within the Auckland Region – there is nothing elsewhere in New Zealand.

It is recommended that the NZ Government identify a programme to collect data in New Zealand about people with disabilities, particularly women, being victims of domestic violence/familial abuse.

It is further recommended that the NZ Government develop a “Plan of Action” to address the elimination of domestic violence/abuse against people with disabilities, including the introduction of strategies and policies to be implemented by Government and private agencies and support services.

This should include investigation into the provision and adequacy of Respite Care facilities for girls and women with disabilities and the establishment of accessible, adequately resourced emergency housing or Refuges with appropriately trained staff for disabled women who are victims of domestic violence/abuse. 


57th Session on the Commission of the Status of Women (March 2013)

The Agreed Conclusions of the 57th session of the Commission of the Status of Women (March 2013 )- the subject of which was “The elimination and prevention of all forms of violence against women and girls” made particular reference in Clause 12, that “women and girls who face multiple forms of discrimination are exposed to increased risk of violence”. As women age, many suffer various forms of disability or loss of mobility – Clause 26 “The Commission recognises the vulnerability of older women and the particular risk of violence they face, and stresses the urgent need to address violence and discrimination against them, particularly in the light of the growing proportion of older people in the world’s population”.

The Commission urges governments to take actions:  A- Strengthening implementation of legal and policy frameworks and accountability. It is recommended in Clause (bb) that governments “Adopt a life-cycle approach in efforts to end discrimination and violence against women and girls and ensure that specific issues affecting older women are given greater visibility and attention………..”

In the Recommendations B– Addressing structural and underlying causes and risk factors so as to prevent violence against girls and women, Clause (gg), governments are directed to “Take all appropriate legislative, administrative, social, educational and other measures to protect and promote the rights of women and girls with disabilities as they are more vulnerable to all forms of exploitation, violence and abuse, including in the workplace, educational institutions, the home, and other settings.

Women tend to live longer (about 10 years) than men, so if their partner dies, their economic and social status can deteriorate if not adequately provided for in a will or through family financial management, and if disabled, are more vulnerable to neglect or familial abuse, through exhaustion, frustration, impatience, lack of support, lack of “caring” skills, lack of time out for the care-giver and social dislocation of a son/daughter who becomes the primary caregiver. It is not appropriate to relocate a disabled woman in a Rest Home for the Elderly if her only reason for not being able to care for herself is a disability. There are few respite facilities for people with disabilities, who have specific needs and requirements that are not met in Rest Homes for the Elderly. Women of all ages, with disabilities, if unmarried tend to be cared for by parents, who will in time die; women who are married and become disabled after marriage, tend to be deserted by husbands/partners or if he stays, the women may suffer domestic abuse/violence (for the same reasons listed above) and if there are children, they may/may not wish to be primary care-givers for multiple reasons

It is recommended that the NZ Government develop a Life-cycle approach to the care of and protection for People with Disabilities and in particular Women with Disabilities. This would be a positive outcome of these recommendations.

Refer to Recommendation above about respite care facilities and safe housing.


The United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD)

The NZ Government has ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD) and has submitted its First Periodic Report (although the Final version is not available on the Ministry of Justice Website).  However, it is my understanding that the Government has not yet appeared before the UNCRPD Monitoring Committee, so there are no “Concluding Observations” yet.

There are two Articles that relate to Women with Disabilities Article 6 (as below) and Article 23 – Respect for home and family.

Article 6 – UNCRPD – Women with Disabilities

1. State Parties recognise that women and girls with disabilities are subject to multiple discrimination, and in this regard shall take measures to ensure the full and equal enjoyment by them of all human rights and fundamental freedoms.

2. State Parties shall take all appropriate measures to ensure the full development, advancement and empowerment of women, for the purpose of guaranteeing them the exercise and enjoyment of the human rights and fundamental freedom set out in the present Convention.

The First NZ Report notes that New Zealand is a signatory to CEDAW, then goes on to note that in the “New Zealand situation – disabled women are disadvantaged.

Eighteen percent (or 332,600) of women aged 15 years and over report a disability, although this is highly variable with age. Disabled women are disproportionately represented among those who lack qualifications, those who do not work and those who are living on a low income. The labour force participation rate of disabled women is significantly lower than for disabled men and non-disabled women. Disabled women’s unemployment rate is also higher than that of non-disabled women and disabled men. Disabled women’s low participation rates in employment and education indicate that their skills and talents are not being fully utilised when compared with non-disabled women. Detachment from education and employment also means that disabled women are more likely to experience poor social and economic outcomes across their life course. There are few, if any targeted programmes in employment or education focused on disabled women and girls.

Women, including disabled women, suffer the impact of domestic violence. Women’s refuges, which provide a safe place for women, are not always suitable or accessible for disabled women.” (This latter statement was endorsed at both BPW NZ and NCW NZ conferences in 2007, when resolutions were carried and policy established, following the release of statistics that showed that disabled women are twice as likely to be victims of domestic violence as non-disabled women)

For recommendations see those above with the Human Rights Commission’s Summary (2010)

It must be noted that the NZ Government has not ratified the Optional Protocol to UNCRPD although I have been informed at the UPR Consultation meeting that this should happen before the beginning of 2014. This should be noted in the NZ Government UPR (2014).

The New Zealand Disability Strategy : Making a World of Difference.(2001)

The aim of the Strategy is to eliminate barriers where they exist. It was developed to guide Government action to promote an inclusive society and as an enduring framework to ensure that Government departments and agencies consider disabled people before making decisions.

It was developed by the Ministry of Health with extensive input from the Disability Sector. Responsibility of implementation rests with the Minister and Office for Disability Issues.

There are Government Objectives incorporated in the Strategy and Objective 14: Promotes participation of disabled women in order to improve their quality of life.

It is stated under Delivering the Strategy, that the Minister for Disability Issues will report annually on progress in implementing the Strategy and full reviews of progress will be conducted after five and ten years.

It is recommended that the Government report if the five and ten years reviews have been carried out and a summary of those reviews recorded in the UPR. It would be worthwhile noting if there needs to be an update to the contents and values of the fifteen Objectives or if they are still as relevant in 2014.  

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