CERMI Manifesto International Women's Day 2011
International Women’s Day
Women with Disabilities and Volunteering
On the occasion of the European Year of Voluntary Activities Promoting Active Citizenship in 2011, CERMI wishes to highlight that active volunteering by women with disabilities is an essential element of the new social governance and a demonstration of solidarity in action by women with disabilities, a group which is active within and committed to the community.
Volunteering is one of the fundamental elements in active citizenship and democracy, giving practical expression to values such as solidarity and non-discrimination and contributing to the harmonious development of societies. Social volunteering carried out by women with disabilities is an important and inalienable agent for social change, involving commitment to full social inclusion and non-discrimination of women and girls with disabilities.
There is, therefore, an urgent need to ensure effective support for measures to promote social volunteering by women with disabilities, with the aim of enabling as many people as possible, and especially as many women with disabilities as possible, to engage in activities in this field, supporting peer learning, developing and exchanging good practices locally, regionally, nationally, in Europe and internationally.
The Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities includes the need to seek the active engagement of women and girls with disabilities in developing and implementing legislation and policies and in other decision-making processes on issues affecting them. Both Spain and the European Union have taken on board this obligation, but much remains to be done to ensure compliance.
In order to encourage active volunteering by women with disabilities, thus enabling them to participate actively and show their commitment to society as actors for social change, CERMI, the Spanish Committee of Representatives of Persons with Disabilities, calls for:
1 Recognition of the work carried out by women with disabilities and their representative organisations disinterestedly, in solidarity and for social transformation, aimed at securing visibility, full social inclusion and non-discrimination for this group of citizens.
2 Recognition of the fact that providing care to dependent persons, an activity to which many women with disabilities are consigned due to the still deeply-held conceptions in society which allow invisibility to continue and greater levels of discrimination against women with disabilities, should not be confused with volunteering. CERMI firmly condemns such situations and calls for corrective action through the implementation of measures for the proper development and promotion of personal autonomy, as set out in legislation.
3 Mechanisms and structures to be put in place to enable disability organisations in the third social sector to boost active volunteering by women with disabilities and contribute to promoting and developing voluntary work by women with disabilities, strengthening to this end the existing networks in this area, such as CERMI’s National Network of Women with Disabilities.
4 Measures to extend the reach of voluntary social action activities in the disability field by the representative organisations of persons with disabilities in their gender and disability strategies, in order to research and find out in detail how much volunteering contributes to the wellbeing, improvements in living conditions and the social inclusion of women and girls with disabilities.
5 Closer cooperation between third social sector organisations, and especially those representing women and those representing women with disabilities, with a view to identifying synergies in the field of social volunteering to boost volunteering among groups at risk of social exclusion, such as girls and women with disabilities.
6 The new National Volunteering Strategy 2010-2014, in line with its guiding principles, should take into account the disability perspective, as applied to gender, when studying volunteering in depth, communicating and carrying out awareness activities, increase training for those working in volunteering and volunteers themselves, strengthen links among all actors engaged in the process, encourage research into the new methods of volunteering and promote their development.
7 The promotion of permanent cooperation mechanisms involving companies and the third social disability sector, in order to include gender and disability in their corporate volunteering programmes.
CERMI considers itself to be capable and entitled to represent the interests of girls and women with disabilities nationally and encourages all its member organizations to disseminate this manifesto and work proactively to promote active volunteering amongst women with disabilities, who currently make up 60% of all people with disabilities in Spain.
8th March 2011.