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It is not new that there are gender inequalities in employment. Women in America have been fighting for equal wages and treatment in the workforce since the mid-20th century, if not earlier. However, too often women with disabilities are excluded from discussions about feminism and equal pay.
According to the report from the Bureau of Statistics, the unemployment rate for women with disabilities is 9.4%, while it is 4% for people without disabilities. This means that women with disabilities are more than twice as likely to be unemployed as their non-disabled colleagues.
The American With Disabilities Act defines a person with a disability as “a person with a physical or mental impairment that significantly limits one or more important life activities.” Almost one in five or 56.7 million people in the United States is disabled. That makes them the largest minority in America.
In his February 2019 State of the Union address, President Trump mentioned that the unemployment rate for minorities, including people with disabilities, has hit an all-time low. While this is true, the unemployment rate for people with disabilities is 9%, the highest of any other minority group. The group with the next highest rate are black Americans at 6.8%.
It is often referred to as double discrimination when a person has two social identities that place them in a disadvantageous position in society. Women with disabilities not only have to fight against sexism, but also against the awareness of ability in the workplace and in all areas of life.
According to the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UN DESA), people with disabilities generally have difficulty entering the open labor market. However, men with disabilities are almost twice as likely to have jobs as women with disabilities.
The UN DESA quotes the International Labor Organization: “When women with disabilities work, they often experience unequal recruitment and promotion standards, unequal access to training and retraining, unequal access to credit and other productive resources, unequal pay for equal work and professional separation. and they seldom participate in economic decisions. “
The Bureau of Labor Statistics data also shows that only 28% of women with disabilities were employed in 2018, compared with 68.6% of women without disabilities. 31.7% of men were now employed with disabilities. The data only includes people who can and want to work and are updated at the end of January each year.
It is imperative that women with disabilities be included in mainstream feminist movements. The most recent example of the exclusion of women with disabilities from a feminist movement is the influx of allegations of sexual violence. Movements like #MeToo, #TimesUp, and #WhyIDidntReport have given millions of women the platform to talk about their own stories of abuse.
But as in every other facet of feminism, women with disabilities continue to be grossly excluded from the conversation if they are up to four times more likely to experience sexual violence than their physically capable colleagues. According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, predominantly 80% of disabled women are sexually assaulted.
Unintentional or not, mainstream feminists have long excluded their disabled sisters from their activism. Often this is due to a lack of empathy or awareness. Too often non-disabled feminists are unaware of their own privileges and abilities when it comes to the intersection of feminism and disability.
Financial freedom is ultimately one of the crucial components for a woman or anyone to live independently. For example, it is often the driving force for someone to get out of an abusive relationship. These are all reasons why feminist movements need to include women with disabilities.