Women and girls with disabilities (W&GWD) often experience a “double discrimination” and are at greater risk of violence, abuse, negligent treatment, or exploitation. Around 10 percent of the world’s female population has some form of disability; their voices are often underrepresented and their talents, untapped. Effective inclusion requires collective action: fostering greater equality and empowering girls and women with disabilities should be a priority in order to guarantee the equal enjoyment of Human Rights.
While many organizations recognize the urgent need to integrate people with disabilities, women and girls with disabilities are often under-represented in gender, protection and disability forums. According to a recent UNDP study, the global literacy rate of these women and girls is as low as one per cent. Moreover, The World Bank reported that every minute more than 30 women are seriously injured or disabled during labor, and that those 15–50 million women generally go unnoticed.
Both public and private spheres pose enormous challenges for women with disabilities; they have fewer chances to receive adequate education, training and employment and are more likely to be institutionalized. Opportunities to attain a dignified life, such as stable job, equal pay, or other productive resources are limited for women with disabilities.
In recent times, a higher emphasis has been placed on providing greater access to education, training, and work opportunities for women with disabilities in the different domains of society. At the policy level, the goals of inclusion and full participation of women in all areas of life are underscored, but need greater outreach. Economies will flourish with inclusion and with a broader perspective of what talent really is.
Consider Frida Khalo, recognized as one of the most famous female painters of all time. She endured polio, spina bifida and the consequences of a terrible accident. Frida created some of the most ground-breaking artwork of the 20th century. She prospectively converted her pain into symbolism, thus presenting to the world something never seen before. Helen Keller, Agatha Christie, Fannie Lou Hamer, the American voting rights activist, civil rights leader, and philanthropist, are just a few examples of women who showed the world that a disability does not hinder their talent and capacity. These women transformed the world.
Exploring new ways to integrate female employees with disabilities and developing entrepreneurial activities are crucial to increase the full participation of women in the work force. Capacity building and sustainability are key elements in the creation of inclusion and empowerment strategies. These are just a few ideas that can boost effective inclusion and empowerment of W&GWD:
1. Offering vocational and professional training through different learning platforms,for example, online courses.
2. Creating opportunities for remote employment.
3. Fostering entrepreneurship training and mentoring programs for enterprise development.
Technology, distance learning and remote work are excellent allies to promote greater inclusion for women and girls. Every individual in the planet has the right to dream and to have a life project. We can’t turn a blind eye to the present situation of inequality and to Human Rights violations. Everybody deserves a future full of bright possibilities and opportunities. Equality, inclusion and empowerment are the key to make it happen.
Angélica Fuentes, Founder Equal Invest
Angélica Fuentes is a Latin American businesswoman and impact investor, who has been recognized by Forbes Magazine as one of Mexico’s most influential women.
Ms. Fuentes was appointed CEO of Grupo Imperial in 1992 and quickly positioned the company as a top player in Northern Mexico’s energy sector. Under her leadership, Grupo Imperial’s annual growth rate increased from 5% in 1992 to 9.5% in 2005. Ms. Fuentes served as President of the Business Energy Network of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Agreement (APEC) from 2002 to 2004, and as President of the Mexican Natural Gas Association from 1996 to 2000. From 2007 to 2015, she served as CEO of Grupo Omnilife-Angelissima-Chivas. Under her leadership, the company became one of the top 100 corporations in Mexico.
Throughout her career, Ms. Fuentes has dedicated significant time and resources to NGOs, international organizations and professional groups that support the cause of women. She participated in the World Economic Forum’s Gender Parity Programme, and led the Mexican Gender Parity Taskforce. She currently serves on Secretary Clinton’s International Council on Women’s Business Leadership; is member of the Private Sector Leadership Advisory Council of UN Women; is a Global Advocate for the Girl Up Campaign, a United Nations Foundation program; co-chairs the PVBLIC LATAM regional platform; is member of the Latin American Program Advisory Board of the Woodrow Wilson International Center; and is member of the Global Dignity’s International Council of Advisors.
Her work in this field has been recognized by numerous honors and awards. In 2015, UN Women gave her the Women’s Empowerment Principles CEO Leadership Award; she was the first female CEO to receive this award for championing gender equality in the private sector. In 2016, PVBLIC Foundation, Ismael Cala Foundation, and the United Nations gave her the award for Latin Woman Empowerment. In 2017, she received the Corporate Social Responsibility Award from The Maestro Cares Foundation.
Gender equality, women empowerment and the eradication of poverty have always been a priority in all her endeavors. In 2014, she established the Angelica Fuentes Foundation. In 2016, she founded A Complete and The Imperative Fund. In 2017, she founded Equal Invest, The Beauty Station and A Complete Journey.