Women and Girls with Disabilities Stakeholders’ Meeting

Globally, more than one billion persons experience some form of disability, out of whom 80% are found in developing countries.


Remarks by

UN Women Representative,

Ms. Hodan Addou on behalf of the UN Tanzania System at the Women and Girls with Disabilities Stakeholders’ Meeting on 31 January, 2020 in Dodoma

  • Prime Minister of the United Republic of Tanzania, His Excellency Kassim Majaliwa,
  • Inspector General of Police, Hon. Simon Sirro 
  • The Chairperson of Ikupa Trust Fund,
  • Representatives of the Ikupa Trust Fund,
  • Members of the Media
  • Community Leaders,
  • Invited Guests,
  • Mabibi na Mabwana,


Habari za Asubuhi!

Asalam Aleikhum and a very good morning!

Ladies and Gentlemen,


Ninafurahi kuwa hapa kuwakilisha, siyo tu shirika la UN Women, bali familia nzima ya Umoja wa Mataifa nchini Tanzania in this maiden Stakeholders’ Meeting that will discuss issues related to women and girls with disabilities.

I would like to congratulate Ikupa Trust Fund and all your partners, some of them here present, for organizing this meeting, which is the first of its kind that will gather the views of various actors, including representatives from the Government of the United Republic of Tanzania, the United Nations, the Civil Society Organisations, the disability rights movement, the women’s rights movement, academia and local communities; to re-position the agenda of disability and gender in preparation for the National Day for Women with Disabilities in Tanzania.


Ladies and Gentlemen,

Let me also recognize the commitment by the Government and various partners for your continued efforts towards the achievement of disability and gender inclusive systems in Tanzania. The United Republic of Tanzania is signatory to a number of global instruments that promote the rights of persons with disabilities including the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action (1995) which affirms efforts to ensure equal enjoyment of all human rights and fundamental freedoms for all women and girls who face multiple barriers to their empowerment and advancement because of such factors as their race, disability, age, language, ethnicity, culture and religion; and the African Charter of Human and People’s Rights, which emphasizes the protection of rights of people with special needs.

The most recent instrument that was adopted globally nearly five years ago, is the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which provides a powerful framework to guide governments, local communities and the international community towards the achievement of disability-inclusive development. The 2030 Agenda pledges to leave no one behind, including persons with disabilities and other disadvantaged groups, it recognizes disability as a cross-cutting issue, to be considered in the implementation of all 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).


Ladies and Gentlemen,

Watu wenye ulemavu wanakabiliwa na vikwazo vingi katika mapambano ya kutafuta Usawa.

Our collaborative efforts with the Government, the Tanzania Women Parliamentary Group, Ikupa Trust Fund, the Legal Services Facility, Civil Society, Community Leaders and other partners reflected the need to continue advocating for the rights of persons with disabilities. Through various forums, we’ve come together and achieved consensus that the plight of women and girls with disabilities was a cause for concern as they are subjected to multiple layers of discrimination.

A combination of negative attitudes towards being a woman and living with disabilities presents “double discrimination”, which lowers economic and social status; increases risk of violence; poses challenges in accessing services such as education, health care and justice; as well as affecting their civic and political participation on an equal basis.  These and other challenges prompted discussions on the need to propose the introduction of the National Day for Women with Disabilities, which we are discussing further through this meeting.

This proposed National Day for Women with Disabilities will create opportunities for sustained efforts to raise public awareness on the challenges faced by women and girls with disabilities and promote the designing of disability and gender sensitive programs and infrastructure.


Ladies and Gentlemen,

Globally, more than one billion persons experience some form of disability, out of whom 80% are found in developing countries. The average prevalence rate in the female population 18 years and older is 19.2%, compared to 12% for males, representing about one in every 5 women.

The higher rate among women is partially attributed to a mix of factors, including women’s longer life expectancy, the later onset of dementia and the impact of poor maternal health care, particularly in developing countries. Studies have shown that women with disabilities, globally, have a 19.6% employment rate, compared to 52.8% for men with disabilities.

A significant number of women and girls with disabilities engage in domestic activities that in some cases do not generate monetary income and are therefore at considerably higher risk of living in poverty. This relegation to the domestic sphere is often linked to stigma associated with disability. At some workplaces, women with disabilities often experience inequality as regards hiring and promotion standards and access to training. For many of the women with disabilities who pursue self-employment, the lack of access to credit and other productive resources, has remained a common challenge.

Global best practices on the empowerment of women and girls with disabilities guide us to ensure a gender and disability lens that is more inclusive and systematic to strengthen the rights of women and girls with disabilities.


Ladies and Gentlemen,

Although most countries in the Eastern and Southern African region have ratified global conventions that promote the rights of persons with disabilities, results from the Mapping of Gender Related Discrimination amongst Women with Disabilities conducted by UN Women in the region in 2019 showed that women and girls with disabilities are more likely to experience gender-based violence; have less access to education and economic opportunities; and to be excluded from leadership and political system.

This discrimination takes place at home, in access to education, social and health services, employment and inheritance as well as in social relations. Fewer public buildings, services and modes of transport are accessible for people with disabilities while poverty, gender and disability are in many ways interconnected rendering especially women, girls and elderly people in poorest countries extremely vulnerable.


Ladies and Gentlemen,

Ili kupiga hatua katika kuimarisha maisha ya wanawake na wasichana wenye ulemavu, basi hatuna budi kushirikiana.

This requires a fundamental shift in our approach, where ALL women and girls with disabilities, in all their diversity are included as equal in all development processes and programs.

In our efforts to ensure that no woman or girl is left behind here in Tanzania, the United Nations is strengthening advocacy work to promote effective mainstreaming of specific needs and interests of women and girls with disabilities in all public and private structures and spaces across all sectors, through our new global campaign – Generation Equality: Realizing Women’s Rights for an Equal Future and other various programs.

We need to bring the next generations of women’s rights activists and male champions with the gender equality advocates and visionaries who were instrumental in creating the Beijing Platform for Action in 1995, for stronger actions towards the achievement of gender equality and women’s empowerment. Creating platforms to discuss the socio and cultural norms that affect women and girls with disabilities will facilitate sharing of ideas on how to address persistent challenges.


Ladies and Gentlemen,

This is why this Stakeholders’ Meeting is so important to us, as it will provide some concrete actions on how we can effectively champion issues of women and girls with disabilities from an inter-generational perspective.

On the global scene, issues related to gender equality and the empowerment of ALL women and girls will dominate 2020 agenda due to other anniversaries to be commemorated this year. As we commemorate five years into the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), we need to critically look at how our work is impacting ALL women and girls with disabilities. Our failure to embrace diversity can mean that for every two steps ahead, we take three steps back, and in a way, we shortchange ourselves.


Ladies and Gentlemen,

We need to seize the moment – and this meeting provides an opportunity to discuss the power of diversity towards gender parity and how we can invigorate our efforts by investing more in women and girls with disabilities and effectively implement laws, policies and programmes that can create greater opportunities for ALL women and girls with disabilities.

Naomba mtambue kuwa familia nzima ya Umoja wa Mataifa nchini Tanzania inawaunga mkono katika jitihada hizi.

With those remarks, I wish you fruitful deliberations.

Asanteni kwa kunsikiliza!

Speech by
Hodan Addou
UN Women
Hodan Addou Profile Pic
UN entities involved in this initiative
UN Women
United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women
United Nations