Sunday, 21 April 2024
Sunday, 21 April 2024

The challenges facing learning disabled women this International Women’s Day

WOMEN with a learning disability experience double discrimination simply for being a woman and having a learning disability. They face significant challenges in many areas of life including employment, housing and health which often stem from negative attitudes, stereotypes and prejudice.

This International Women’s Day, learning disability charity Hft is calling for greater recognition of the additional challenges learning disabled women face, calling out discrimination and encouraging inclusion.

Steve Veevers, CEO of Hft, explained:

“We recognise that things need to change to make the world a more inclusive place for learning disabled women.

“According to statistics from the United Nations, women with disabilities are two to three times more likely than other women to experience violence, two times less likely than men without disabilities to be employed, and are severely under-represented in decision-making, with just 2.3% of women with disabilities holding a position as a legislator, senior official or manager.

“We need to do better. Through our campaigning plan, Voices for Our Future, which outlines the changes that learning disabled adults would like to see in the UK, we will work to ensure learning disabled women are listened to, including by decision-makers in Whitehall and Westminster, and are part of the change that is so necessary.”

One of the four themes highlighted by Voices for Our Future is attitudes. Rachael Stead, a woman who attends the charity’s friendship group Luv2meetU, has spoken out about her own experience of prejudice and says she is calling for change because “it has happened to me and I don’t want it to happen to anyone else.”

Rachael has also joined the Walk in Our Shoes Network which was set up by Hft to ensure its campaigns are truly informed by the voices and opinions of learning disabled adults.

The challenges facing learning disabled women this International Women’s Day
Steve Veevers, Hft’s CEO.

Mr Veevers continued:

“Negative attitudes can exacerbate existing challenges facing learning disabled women and are wrongly still commonplace in society. We would like to see the Government take proactive steps to stop disability hate crime once and for all, and educate those from a young age to remove stigma surrounding learning disabled adults.”

Mr Veevers also pays homage to the staff working in the adult social care sector:

“As a man who works in a mostly female organisation and industry, I have to say, I feel it’s my honour to celebrate the women in my life and workplace. After all, I’m not just surrounded by strong, intelligent women every day – I also owe my entire career to them.

“Let’s face it, we wouldn’t be where we are today without the women who came before us. From Ada Lovelace, the world’s first computer programmer, to Katherine Johnson, the NASA mathematician who helped put a man on the moon, women have been breaking barriers and smashing stereotypes since the beginning of time.

“And yet, despite all their accomplishments, women still face systemic and widespread discrimination and inequality. From the gender pay gap to the lack of female representation in leadership positions, there is still so much work to be done.

“So, on this International Women’s Day, let’s make a pledge to do better. It’s not enough to just talk about the issues; we have to take tangible steps towards progress. Let’s listen, educate ourselves, and take action. Because when we elevate women, we all rise together.”

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