Disability Inclusive Violence Prevention Programs for Women

Two women using power wheelchairs smile.


Anyone can be targeted for violence at any time. But, women experience more violence than men, and people with disabilities experience more violence than non-disabled people. Thus, women with disabilities experience much higher risk for violence. Caregivers for people with disabilities – most of whom are women or girls – are also at higher risk of violence.

GBV practitioners can make their programs more inclusive of women, girls, boys, and men with disabilities.

Resources & Tools for Action

Toolkit for Inclusive GBV Programs in Humanitarian Settings

The International Rescue Committee and the Women’s Refugee Commission developed a toolkit for GBV practitioners, entitled “Building Capacity for Disability Inclusion in Gender-Based Violence Programming in Humanitarian Settings: A Toolkit for GBV Practitioners” (linked below). The tools in this toolkit can help GBV practitioners with understanding the intersection between disability, gender, and violence, communicating with people with disabilities and leading group discussions, making materials accessible, and other issues.

Review of Barriers to Access Services

The document entitled “I See That It Is Possible: Building Capacity for Disability Inclusion in Gender-based Violence (GBV) Programming in Humanitarian Settings” (linked below) reviews some of the barriers that make it harder for women, girls, boys, and men to access services and programs meant to prevent or respond to gender-based violence in humanitarian settings. It summarizes a pilot project in which practitioners worked to remove these barriers and how they did it. This project led to the toolkit for GBV practitioners described below and was also produced by the International Rescue Committee and the Women’s Refugee Commission.

Frameworks & Best Practices

The report entitled “Forgotten Sisters – A Report on Violence against Women with Disabilities: An Overview of Its Nature, Scope, Causes and Consequences” reviews information about GBV against women with disabilities. It outlines the international and regional legal framework in relation to GBV against women with disabilities. It also highlights best practices and makes recommendations for action. Report written by Stephanie Ortoleva, President of Women Enabled International, and Hope Lewis, Professor of Law at Northeastern University School of Law, members of the Violence Against Women with Disabilities Working Group.

Women Enabled International advocates and educates for the human rights of all women and girls, with an emphasis on women and girls with disabilities, and works tirelessly to include women and girls with disabilities in international resolutions, policies and programs addressing women’s human rights and development. Learn more on their website at www.womenenabled.org/.

Case Study: Responses to GBV in Australia

A literature review of articles studying responses to GBV survivors with disabilities in Australia found several approaches that are helpful such as removing accessibility barriers to GBV services, promoting empowerment, and more.

The literature review (linked below) summarizes what is known about the incidence rate and types of violence and abuse of women and girls with disabilities. It provides a brief overview of the social and medical models of disability and touches upon the importance of intersectionality. It also summarizes what is known about responses to GBV survivors with disabilities. This includes a summary of collaborative efforts between disability organizations and GBV organizations to ensure disability inclusion. It highlights the most effective ways to respond to GBV survivors with disabilities that have been found in the literature. Produced by Women with Disabilities Australia (WWDA).

The literature review is titled “What does it take? Developing informed and effective tertiary responses to violence and abuse of women and girls with disabilities in Australia: State of knowledge paper.”

Recommendations from the Violence Against Women Working Group

  • United Nations (UN) agencies and mechanisms need to be more engaged at the international level with issues related to GBV against women and girls with disabilities.
  • Women with disabilities should be consulted when developing training materials on preventing and responding to violence against women with disabilities. All training materials need to be available in formats accessible to people with disabilities. Materials need to be culturally appropriate for each country, community, and population.
  • Judicial systems need to be accessible to women with disabilities.
  • All meetings discussing gender equality need to be accessible to, and inclusive of, women with disabilities. This means that these meetings need to be in accessible locations and that they need to provide accommodations for people with intellectual disabilities, people who are deaf or hard of hearing, people with vision disabilities, people with psychosocial disabilities, etc.
  • Countries need to address violence against women with disabilities in prisons.
  • For more recommendations, see the conclusions section of the Forgotten Sisters Report below.