Considering the estimation of 2010 within the global population ‘more than a billion people are living with some form of disability, or about 15% of the world’s population. Women outnumber men, as in the developing countries, women constitute up to three quarters of all persons with disabilities. Between 65% and 70% of these women with disabilities live in rural areas. Pakistan has a population of 1.8million of which persons with disabilities make up 10 percent. Of this population women and children account for (please put percentage).
They are living in the most vulnerable conditions which makes everyday living a challenge in itself. In this situation, persons with disabilities are excluded from the mainstream of education, health and development. Women with disabilities are disadvantaged in several key areas when compared with other women, men with disabilities, and the society as a whole. These women face a triple handicap and discrimination due to their disability, gender and developing world status. At the same time, Stigma remains in society at large, within communities, and even, in many cases of uneducated segments of society, within families who see disabled women as a loss of productive potential and a drain on family resources. So, while on the one hand, the strong cultural family network ensures their financial security, on the other, the stigma often results in their remaining invisible members of society.
Women with disabilities have always been considered as direct or indirect beneficiaries in Pakistan and never been engaged as leaders. The significant human rights-based approach has a great deal to say about disability inequalities. Disability Movement begins with the recognition that each of us views societal concepts and institutions from a different lens depending on our consciousness and place in society. The lack of understanding of rights of persons with disabilities as human rights is reflected in the fact that few governments are committed in domestic and foreign policy, to persons with disabilities equality as basic human right. Among non-governmental human rights organizations persons with disabilities are rarely a priority and even disabled people’s organizations have seen women with disabilities not as separate area to focus.
This separation of persons with disabilities rights from human rights has perpetuated the secondary status of persons with disabilities specially women with disabilities and highlights the importance of recognizing specific women’s human rights concerns. The existing policies overlooked the issues of violation and its link between barriers faced by women with disabilities in everyday life.
The emerging concept of leadership role of women with disabilities and obliging all stakeholders is the key to diverse their focus on women’s empowerment and leadership rather than undermining them as only beneficiaries, which lay the foundations for future research to address these issues.