Violence against women is an international problem, with devastating consequences. In Bolivia, Humanity & Inclusion works alongside communities to reduce risks and protect women with disabilities.
Content warning: Physical and sexual abuse; domestic violence
One in three women experiences physical or sexual violence within their lifetime. Additional factors such as inequality, poverty, crisis, and disability further increase the risk of violence to women and girls worldwide.
Often targeted due to mobility limitations, dependency on others, or barriers to reporting abuse, women and girls with disabilities experience significantly higher rates of violence than those without disabilities. They are also subjected to abuse for longer periods of time, with fewer resources available.
“Violence against women with disabilities is a reality,” says Lidia Pereira, Humanity & Inclusion’s Economic Insertion Project Manager in Bolivia. “But it is not always visible. Violence prevention services do not necessarily have knowledge surrounding disability, so access to information and care is limited for them.”
Gender-Based Violence in Bolivia
Bolivia is no exception to this epidemic. The country has the highest number of teenage pregnancies in Latin America, often linked cases of sexual abuse. More than half (52.3%) of women report having experienced physical or sexual violence by an intimate partner, but only 1% of all gender-based violence cases are prosecuted and convicted.
In Bolivia, women with disabilities are 10 times more likely to experience sexual violence than women without disabilities. Seven out of 10 women with disabilities report having been subjected to violence within their families, and half of those reported being survivors of sexual violence. It is estimated that only a small percentage of cases are reported, given that many women and girls with disabilities are in situations of dependency.
Protecting and Empowering Women
Humanity & Inclusion takes a community-based inclusive approach to prevent violence against women through its projects in Bolivia. Alongside the Gregoria Apaza Women’s Promotion Center and the Institute of Socioeconomic Research of the Universidad Catolica San Pablo, Humanity & Inclusion works to ensure that women with and without disabilities can demand, advocate for, and exercise their rights.
Humanity & Inclusion tackles factors that increase risk of violence by:
- Educating women and girls about their sexual and reproductive health. Humanity & Inclusion has developed and published accessible, inclusive guides and materials for women, girls and caregivers.
- Strengthening financial resilience. Humanity & Inclusion works to improve inclusive access to training and job placement to enable women with disabilities to gain financial independence and autonomy.
- Promoting women’s rights. Humanity & Inclusion develops material and trainings to raise awareness about women’s right to live free of violence and access comprehensive education.
- Strengthening community resources for violence prevention and care. Humanity & Inclusion works to include the needs and participation of women, including women with disabilities, in response plans. Teams identify and share accessible gender-based-violence resources.
Training Community Leaders
Women participate in training sessions as community leaders to gain knowledge and confidence to exercise their rights.
One participant shared that her role as leader of a local women’s group resulted in her experiencing domestic violence at home. After reporting her case to the authorities, she said that participating in Humanity & Inclusion’s sessions has allowed her to feel “safe and content” with her decision to denounce her aggressor.
“With this proposal developed by Humanity & Inclusion and its partners, women with and without disabilities can have the tools to prevent, inform and support other women in situations of violence, promoting a life free of violence for all women,” Pereira explains.
Violence affects one in three women in their lifetime. Globally, women with disabilities are ten times more likely to experience sexual violence. Over the next three weeks, Humanity & Inclusion will address the violence against women with disabilities at the 71st session of the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women, organized by the United Nations in Geneva from October 22 through November 9.
25 years of work
Humanity & Inclusion implements projects to address violence in six countries around the world by raising women's awareness of their rights and helping them build self-reliance. In Rwanda, HI provides psychological support to victims of physical and sexual violence, including women, and organizes discussion groups. In Rwanda, Burundi, and Kenya, our team works to combat sexual violence against children, including children with disabilities, who are three to four times more likely to be at risk of violence.
Making it Work
HI launched the Making it Work Gender and Disability project to promote good practices in order to eliminate violence against women and girls with disabilities. The aim is to ensure that women's voices are heard and that the risks they face (violence, abuse, and exploitation) are taken into account in the projects implemented by other organizations in the fields of humanitarian action, human rights, feminism, and gender-based violence.
Gender and disability intersectionality in practice: Women and girls with disabilities addressing discrimination and violence in Africa
In June 2018, Humanity & Inclusion's Making it Work project published the report, “Gender and disability intersectionality in practice: Women and girls with disabilities addressing discrimination and violence in Africa,” which presents nine best practices for women’s organizations in six African countries. Women leaders with disabilities presented the report at the Conference of States Parties to the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in New York.
Humanity & Inclusion works to prevent violence based on disability, gender and age and its disabling consequences in development and fragile settings, as well as to provide holistic care for survivors of violence, exploitation and abuse. HI’s goal is to ensure that people with disabilities and other at-risk groups are less exposed to violence and can live in dignity, independently, and with control over their own lives. View the flier here.
This committee is the body of independent experts that monitors implementation of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women
 Kenya, Ethiopia, Rwanda, Burundi, Pakistan, and Bangladesh.