Our Bodies, Our Rights: Research Report

Wiseman, P. and Ferrie, J. (2018) Our Bodies, Our Rights: Research Report. Project Report. Engender, Engender Scotland website.

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Publisher's URL: https://www.engender.org.uk/content/publications/Our-Bodies-Our-Rights---additional-research-report.pdf


Disabled women’s lives and lived experiences have received limited policy attention in the UK, limited visibility, and limited inclusion in mainstream feminisms and feminist projects. Despite increasing movement towards intersectionality and intersectional agendas, disabled people have remained hidden in myriad ways. As the accompanying policy report ‘Our Bodies, Our Rights: Identifying and removing barriers to disabled women’s reproductive rights in Scotland’ details, there is a lack of robust research examining the lived experiences of reproduction and reproductive rights of disabled women in Scotland. Women with Learning Disabilities’ reproductive rights have been recognised and pointed to in the Scottish Government’s Keys to Life1 strategy in implicit ways. The 52 recommendations encapsulate a need to ensure the wellbeing, health and equal citizenship of people with learning disabilities in Scotland, which includes their rights to family life, support, inclusion and reproductive health. Similarly, the ‘A Fairer Scotland For Disabled People’2 delivery plan also points to improving the lives of disabled people in Scotland and specifically references the ‘Equally Safe’3 strategy in recognising the need to support disabled women and girls who are subject to gender based violence. This delivery plan and the Keys to Life recognise the need to meet international obligations to disabled people under the United Nations Conventions for the Rights of Persons with Disabilities4 (2006/2008) signed by the United Kingdom in 2009. The UNCRPD explicitly recognises the rights of disabled women throughout. Article 3, the general principles of the convention emphasise respect, dignity, autonomy, participation and independence and explicitly references the equality of men and women. The convention recognises that disabled girls and women are disproportionally at risk of violence (in all its forms) and exploitation. Article 6 of the convention is dedicated to disabled women and lays out states’ obligations to fulfil the rights of disabled women, to take all measures to ensure the advancement of disabled women’s rights and ‘fundamental freedoms’. Articles 7 and 8 outline the rights of disabled children and states’ obligation to provide equal education to disabled people and to ‘promote awareness of the capabilities and contributions of persons with disabilities’. Articles 10, 12, and 13 articulate the right to life and dignity, to equality under the law and access to justice and crucially articles 22 and 23 outline respect for privacy and respect for home and family life. Articles 22 and 23 emphasise the rights of disabled people to not be subject to ‘arbitrary interference’ by the state and to ‘eliminate discrimination against persons with disabilities in all matters relating to marriage, family, parenthood 1 The Keys to Life: Scotland’s Learning Disability Strategy www.keystolife.info/ 2 A Fairer Scotland www.gov.scot/publications/fairer-scotland-disabled-people-delivery-plan-2021-united- nations-convention/ 3 Equally Safe: National Strategy www.gov.scot/publications/equally-safe/ 4 United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities http://www.un.org/development/desa/disabilities/convention-on-the-rights-of-persons-with-disabilities.html 2 and relationships...’ as such disabled women have the right to found families and to have access to meaningful and equal information on sexual and reproductive health, parenting and family planning. It recognises the right of disabled women and to ‘retain their fertility on an equal basis with others’ and that disabled parents are able to parent their children. While this is a brief indication of the rights and freedoms laid out in the UNCRPD they undoubtedly speak to the gendered nature of human rights. Similarly, the United Kingdom Equality Act5 (2010) protects and articulates the rights of disabled people to be treated equally, to not be subject to discrimination or unequal treatment. There is further recognition of a risk of discrimination outlined by the protected characteristic (PC), pregnancy and maternity, and potential for intersection with PCs sex, sexual orientation and gender reassignment. However, academic research and grey literature has identified that disabled women face ongoing inequality and discrimination, and that though significant intersectional disadvantage exists in the space between PCs, the legislation is unable to challenge this. Scotland’s disability policy reflects and has aimed to challenge the wider social invisibility of the gendered realities of disability including the reproductive equality, experiences and health of disabled women in Scotland. Engender Scotland, the Scottish Learning Disabilities Observatory and the University of Glasgow have responded to this epistemic gap through the ‘Our Bodies, Our Rights’ project and aim to make the unequal lives of disabled women more visible in social and health data.

Item Type:Research Reports or Papers (Project Report)
Keywords:Disability, women, reproduction, bodies, rights, equality, learning disability.
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Ferrie, Professor Jo and Wiseman, Dr Phillippa
Authors: Wiseman, P., and Ferrie, J.
Subjects:H Social Sciences > HM Sociology
H Social Sciences > HQ The family. Marriage. Woman
College/School:College of Social Sciences > School of Social and Political Sciences
College of Social Sciences > School of Social and Political Sciences > Sociology Anthropology and Applied Social Sciences

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