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While equality, diversity and gender equality are all hot topics right now and since the Black Lives Matter movement, there have been some huge changes which you can see just by watching TV. However, there is one group of people who are still being underrepresented and left behind in all of this, and this is women with disabilities. These women make up roughly 5% of the world’s female population, yet they are still struggling to find their place in the women’s movement, and even the high-profile campaigns such as #MeToo are more of a reminder of what a long way there is to go before they can say that their voices are being heard.
According to a report by the British disability charity, Scope entitled Current Attitudes Towards Disabled People, more than a third (36%) of people tend to think of disabled people as not as productive as everyone else; nearly a quarter (24%) of disabled people have experienced attitudes or behaviors where other people expected less of them because of their disability, and a staggering two-thirds (67%) of the public feel uncomfortable talking to disabled people! Many people don’t realize that having a positive attitude towards disability is as equally crucial as barrier-free physical access and disability accommodation.
It’s not just the public’s attitudes either, what women should know about disability insurance is that they are treated differently, and their rates are often significantly higher than for men. Like with many things, there only needs to be simple adjustments made to help reduce barriers disabled women face but to do this, there need to be more people fighting for them. Just like with the BLM movement, it didn’t matter what race you were; people stood together to fight for equality and also spent time educating themselves. Now the same needs to be done for other minority groups.
While COVID is the top of everyone’s agenda right now, other issues cannot be forgotten, and the first step is to speak out. Whether it’s in work and you are in a position where you can encourage open conversations with others or speak out and create a culture that fosters a working environment where people communicate openly and won’t be afraid to have difficult conversations or to challenge inappropriate language or behaviour. Awareness weeks dedicated to specific areas of equality, diversity and inclusion are great for giving people the learning resources to use during team meetings or sending out surveys are a great way of getting conversations started and encouraging people to speak out. At the moment, talking about something other than COVID would likely be really welcome in your business too so. Therefore, people may pay more attention than they would normally.
In the Scope report, of the disabled people who said that they had faced problems with employment, 76% of them identified employers’ attitudes as the problem. Today, disabled people are more than twice as likely to be unemployed than people without a disability, and while unemployment is pretty high right now due to COVID, it’s more important than ever not to miss this vital group of women who could bring something valuable and diverse to your organization.