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DAWN-RAFH Canada - Working for Women with Disabilities

  • Published: 2014-03-09 : Author: Disabled World : Contact: Disabled World
  • Synopsis: Information regarding founding and mission of DAWN-RAFH to end isolation, poverty, violence and discrimination experienced by women with disabilities.

Main Document

"Women with disabilities face prejudices and obstacles in a number of aspect of daily life such as employment, education and housing."

DAWN-RAFH Canada was founded in the year 1985 after a meeting between 17 women from across Canada who came together to discuss issues of mutual concern. In a society that devalues and many times punishes differences of any kind, women with disabilities face a number of barriers. Aboriginal women, older women, lesbians, and women of color deal with discrimination and more barriers.

DAWN-RAFH Canada's mission is to end the isolation, poverty, violence and discrimination experienced by women with disabilities and deaf women. The organization works towards the inclusion and advancement of women and girls with disabilities and deaf women in Canada. Their strategic theme is one of leadership, networking and partnership to engage all levels of government and the wider disability and women's sectors and additional stakeholders in dealing with their main issues.

DAWN-RAFH Canada's Goals Include:
Providing a role model for girls with disabilities
Being the voice of women with disabilities in Canada
Working in coalition with those who share their concerns for social justice
To be a resource for and about women with disabilities and their concerns
Being a bridge between women with disabilities and the women's movement
Outreach with all women with disabilities, including women of color, lesbians, older women, women in institutions and single mothers
Working with the women's movement on issues that affect all women and helping the movement become more accessible to women with disabilities
Addressing issues such as employment equity, poverty, mothering, violence, health, sexuality, isolation, health, access to services and New Reproductive Technologies (NRT's)

Poverty and Women with Disabilities

In Canada, 1 out of 5 women live with a form of disability. Women with disabilities face prejudices and obstacles in a number of aspect of daily life such as employment, education and housing. Discrimination experienced by women with disabilities is complex because it is the result of the intersection of multiple oppressions related to gender, disability, level of urbanization, sexual orientation, age, ethnicity, culture, employment status and economic circumstances.

Women with disabilities are poorer than their male counterparts. Major cuts in Canadian social programs have forced women with disabilities into precarious situations. The Caledon Institute for Social Policy noted that one are in which there has been virtually no progress in the past 30 years has been the area of income security. Additional statistics include:

Housing and Women with Disabilities

Due to several factors, women with disabilities face significant obstacles to accessing affordable, safe and adequate housing. The result is women with disabilities who find themselves homeless or vulnerably housed with a lack of options for the amelioration of their housing situations.

Women with disabilities face high levels of unemployment and poverty, placing them at a disadvantage when it comes to the ability to meet their financial and housing needs. Along with financial barriers, women with disabilities face access issues, to include buildings that are inaccessible, as well as being subjected to housing practices that are discriminatory. Women with disabilities might lack information in regards to their rights as tenants, as well as information in regards to support services that are available such as subsidies and housing programs they may be eligible for. All of these factors and more ensure that finding affordable, safe and accessible housing remains a significant issue and challenge for women with disabilities in Canada.

Violence and Women with Disabilities

Violence against women who experience forms of disabilities shares common characteristics with violence against women in general. Women with disabilities also experience forms of abuse that women without forms of disabilities do not. Violence against women and girls with disabilities is not simply a subset of gender-based violence, it is an inter-sectional category dealing with disability-based and gender-based violence. The confluence of the two factors results in an extremely high-risk of violence against women with disabilities.

Women with disabilities experience a wider range of physical, emotional and sexual abuse by health care providers and personal attendants as well as higher rates of emotional abuse by not only strangers, but family members. They also may be prevented from using a cane, respirator, wheelchair, or other types of assistive devices.

Chart presenting information concerning women with disabilities in Canada
About This Image: Chart presenting information concerning women with disabilities in Canada
Almost no literature exists regarding the risk of abuse, women's experiences of abuse, and the barriers to pursuing help among women with disabilities. The absence of attention to the issue from both disability and violence researchers has contributed to the invisibility of the victimization of women who experience forms of disabilities. In Canada:

DAWN-RAFH Canada History

DAWN-RAFH Canada has an exceptional history of actions taken during its existence. Unfortunately, one article is incapable of presenting the entire history of this incredible organization. In five years, DAWN-RAFH Canada has pursued some highly worthwhile activities in support of women and girls with disabilities.






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