Access to justice for women and girls with disabilities

Academic Paper / Article

May 17, 2019

Access to justice for women and girls with disabilities


Women and girls with disabilities, who make up almost one-fifth of the world’s population of women, face significant barriers to accessing justice, due to discrimination on the basis of both gender and disability, accessibility barriers to the justice system, and lack of reasonable accommodations throughout judicial proceedings. Compared to both men with disabilities and women without disabilities, women with disabilities are disproportionately excluded from legal protection and are more likely to have their credibility questioned, owing to harmful gender and disability stereotypes. Women with disabilities also encounter barriers to attaining positions as lawyers, judges, and other officials in the justice system, and may be excluded from serving on juries. Such barriers not only limit the ability of women with disabilities to use the justice system, but also limit their ability to contribute to the administration of justice to society as a whole. Access to justice is interdependent with a number of fundamental rights. Effective access to justice is essential for challenging human rights violations, such as discrimination in employment or deprivation of parental rights. Lack of access to justice can reinforce vulnerability to rights violations, particularly where perpetrators may feel emboldened when they know the justice system is unlikely to respond to complaints by women with disabilities. Access to justice also depends on the fulfilment of other rights—realization of the right to accessibility, for instance, will often determine whether women with disabilities have effective access to the justice system.

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