The Philippines celebrates 13th Women with Disabilities Day

File photo: Cerebral palsy did not stop April Joy Fagtanan in finishing her studies and being the breadwinner of her family. © Marice Jade Chua

The World Health Organization (2011) estimates that 19.2% of the global women population have some form of disability and they are twice as likely to be affected by violence than their peers without disabilities (The Lancet, 2012). In the Philippines, the 2010 national household census claims that 49.1% of Filipinos with disabilities are women (DOH website).

Women with disabilities are in greater disadvantage and are prone to abuse and negligence due to their gender and disability; their situation are further jeopardized by the fact that majority of them have limited access to basic and specific services due to different factors like poverty, discrimination, geographical location of services, lack of information about service, and the like.

Recognizing the challenges that women with disabilities face and the great role they should play in nation building, the Philippine Government issued Proclamation No. 744 in 2004 – declaring every last Monday of the month of March as the Women with Disabilities Day. Today, March 27, is its 13th year celebration with the theme “Babaeng Maykapansanan, Manguna at Manindigan Tungo sa Pagbabago” (Women with disabilities, lead and stand-up for change).

The National Council on Disability Affairs (agency under the Department of Social Welfare and Development tasked to lead the event) and the Department of Justice (chair of national working committee) agreed to have the celebration tomorrow, March 28, to enable more women with disabilities, advocates and organizations to participate in the event. It will be held at the Philippine Arena, Ciudad de Victoria, Bocaue, Bulacan from 8AM onwards (admission is free).

In their Facebook page, NCDA says that this year’s celebration “will be the biggest gathering of women with disabilities, advocates, local government units, national and regional field offices of government agencies, non-government organizations and disabled people’s organizations to support positive change leading to inclusion of women and men with disabilities in all programs of the local government.”

Philippine president Rodrigo Duterte is expected to join the celebration together with Social Welfare and Development secretary Judy Tuguiwalo and Justice secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II. Actress Marian Rivera-Dantes will also be present to deliver her speech as the designated ambassadress for women and children with disabilities.

There will be 1) booths containing information materials of services and/or trainings by government agencies and non-government organizations for persons with disabilities, 2) a bazaar where products made by persons with disabilities, particularly women with disabilities, will be showcased, 3) cultural presentations of talented persons with disabilities, particularly women and 4) testimonies of women leaders with disabilities.

Working alongside persons with disabilities and other vulnerable persons for almost 35 years, Handicap International is fully aware of the problems women with disabilities face. We lead and support initiatives that advocate for greater inclusion and participation of women with disabilities in society.