News 07 Mar
International Women's Day: A Disability Perspective 💜
By Sara Shams | Edited by EveryHuman
International Women's Day (IWD) is an annual event that honours the various achievements of women/womxn and our movement towards gender equality. IWD is about forming an environment where everyone is valued. As a woman living with a disability, this means a world free of bias, stereotypes, and discrimination. A world that is diverse, equitable, and inclusive, where I can be me - as independently as possible, armed with the necessary support.
The IWD 2022 theme of #BreakTheBias is especially relevant to me. People living with disabilities are often faced with unconscious bias in everyday situations, and we need to work towards breaking this bias.
What is Unconscious Bias?
Unconscious biases, or implicit biases, are attitudes, opinions, beliefs, and unintentional preferences, that occur when we interact with a person or group of people. This can often lead to unintentional discriminatory behaviours.1
This year, I want to highlight #BreakTheBias on the low workforce participation rates of women/womxn with disabilities. As a woman living with a disability, being independent and having meaningful employment has been crucial for not only my financial security but also my physical and mental health, personal identity, and wellbeing.
It is well documented that women/womxn have lower workforce participation than men. Whilst similar struggles are shared by both disabled and non-disabled women/womxn, research shows that women/womxn with disabilities are often further disadvantaged as a result of double discrimination and perceived weaker due to both their disability and gender status.2
We must all work towards breaking the bias and ensuring a range of disabled employees and clients within any business. There are numerous ways in which this can be achieved, such as:
- Educating employers and recruiters on unconscious bias towards people with disabilities, providing an accessible hiring process.
- Instituting hiring goals that include employing both men and womxn with disabilities and measuring progress.
- Creating womxn's mentorship programs and raising awareness through networking.
- Not using a 'one size fits all' approach - employers must be flexible and take an individualised approach to guarantee women/womxn with disabilities get the necessary support.
- Educating women/womxn living with disabilities regarding disability discrimination and their rights.
So, this International Women's Day, let's take a moment to consider how YOU can #BreakTheBias in your workplace and community. Collectively, we can create a world where our differences are valued and celebrated.
- League of European Research Universities. Implicit bias in academia: a challenge to the meritocratic principle and to women's careers—and what to do about it. 2018. https://www.leru.org/files/implicit-bias-in-academiafull-paper.pdf
- Lina Abu Habib. (1995). "Women and Disability Don't Mix!": Double Discrimination and Disabled Women's Rights. Gender and Development, 3(2), 49–53. http://www.jstor.org/stable/4030515