WAAD 2018: Autistic women and girls / by Erich Kofmel

The United Nations has announced the theme for this year's UN World Autism Awareness Day, 2 April 2018: "Empowering Women and Girls with Autism"


They write: "In November 2017, the United Nations General Assembly adopted a resolution drawing attention to the particular challenges that women and girls with disabilities face in the context of the implementation of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD). The resolution expresses concern that women and girls with disabilities, are subject to multiple and intersecting forms of discrimination, which limit their enjoyment of all human rights and fundamental freedoms.

"The 2018 World Autism Awareness Day observance at United Nations Headquarters New York will focus on the importance of empowering women and girls with autism and involving them and their representative organizations in policy and decision making to address these challenges.

"Girls with disabilities are less likely to complete primary school and more likely to be marginalized or denied access to education. Women with disabilities have a lower rate of employment than men with disabilities and women without disabilities. Globally, women are more likely to experience physical, sexual, psychological and economic violence than men, and women and girls with disabilities experience gender-based violence at disproportionately higher rates and in unique forms owing to discrimination and stigma based on both gender and disability. As a result of inaccessibility and stereotyping, women and girls with disabilities are persistently confronted with barriers to sexual and reproductive health services and to information on comprehensive sex education, particularly women and girls with intellectual disabilities including autism.

"Through dynamic moderated discussions with experts and advocates, the observance will examine the particular challenges that women and girls with autism face in this context.

"Other key issues to be addressed include challenges and opportunities in fully exercising rights in matters relating to marriage, family and parenthood on an equal basis with others, as underscored in Article 23 of the CRPD and in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) adopted by world leaders at the United Nations in 2015 (SDG 5.6)."

Events at UN Headquarters in New York will take place only on 5 April (2 April being Easter Monday). Disappointing that once more they chose as a theme something that fits into the larger UN agenda on people with disabilities, rather than something autism-specific. Let's hope autistic women who are invited to speak at the UN will point out areas in which they are affected more or differently than other girls and women with disabilities and/or people with disabilities in general, for example Applied Behaviour Analysis (ABA) "therapies" that condition autistic girls to become compliant and thus more prone to sexual abuse.

The programme hasn't been announced yet, but if you are planning to be in New York, you can already RSVP.