Facts and Figures

Two million women with disabilities live in Australia, making up 20.1% of the population of Australian women.

  • Women with disabilities face multiple discriminations and are often more disadvantaged than men with disabilities in similar circumstances. Women with disabilities are often denied equal enjoyment of their human rights, in particular by virtue of the lesser status ascribed to them by tradition and custom, or as a result of overt or covert discrimination. Women with disabilities face particular disadvantages in the areas of education, work and employment, family and reproductive rights, health, violence and abuse. For example:
  • Women with disabilities experience violence, particularly family violence and violence in institutions, more often than disabled men;
  • Gender-based violence, including domestic/family violence, sexual assault/rape is a cause of disability in women;
  • Women and girls with disabilities are often at greater risk than disabled men, both within and outside the home, of violence, injury or abuse, neglect or negligent treatment, maltreatment or exploitation;
  • Women with disabilities are more vulnerable as victims of crimes from both strangers and people who are known to them, yet crimes against disabled women are often never reported to law enforcement agencies;
  • More women than men are classified as disabled, particularly as ageing populations mean that larger proportions of the elderly are women with disabilities;
  • Women with disabilities are less likely to receive service support than disabled men;
  • While disabled people are much more likely to live in poverty, women with disabilities are likely to be poorer than men with disabilities;
  • Women with disabilities and men with disabilities have different economic opportunities, with disabled women less likely to be in the paid workforce than disabled men;
  • Over the last decade, the unemployment rate for disabled women in Australia has remained virtually unchanged (8.3%) despite significant decreases in the unemployment rates for disabled men;
  • Employment of women with disabilities in the Australian public sector shows an employment rate of approximately 2.8%, compared to that of men with disabilities of 3.9%;
  • Women with disabilities are more likely to be sole parents, to be living on their own, or in their parental family than disabled men;
  • Women with disabilities, with less financial resources at their disposal than disabled men, are particularly vulnerable to living in insecure or inadequate housing;
  • Women with disabilities and their children are more likely than disabled men, to be affected by the lack of affordable housing, due to the major gap in overall economic security across the life-cycle, and to their experience of gender-based violence which leads to housing vulnerability, including homelessness;
  • Women who become disabled after marriage are at higher risk of divorce than disabled men and often experience difficulty maintaining custody of their children;
  • Women with disabilities who are parents, or who seek to become parents, face barriers in accessing adequate health care and other services for both themselves and their child/ren;
  • Women with disabilities are more likely than disabled men, to face medical interventions to control their fertility;
  • Women with disabilities experience more extreme social categorisation than disabled men, being more likely to be seen either as hypersexual and uncontrollable, or de-sexualised and inert;
  • Media images contribute to the presumptions that the bodies of women with disabilities are unattractive, asexual and outside the societal ascribed norms of ‘beauty’;
  • Women with disability from ethnic or indigenous communities are more likely to have to contend with forces that exclude them on the basis of gender as well as disability, culture and heritage;
  • Women with disabilities are more exposed to practices which qualify as torture or inhuman or degrading treatment (such as sterilization, forced abortion, violence, forced medication, chemical restraint).

– This information is taken from the Women With Disabilities Australia website Gender and Disability: An Overview of the Status of Women With Disabilities in Australia