Today, the Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for Women, Senator the Hon. Michaelia Cash, is launching the WWDA Youth Network – an initiative of Women With Disabilities Australia (WWDA) – at the Australian Human Rights Commission. WWDA is the peak organisation for women and girls with all types of disability in Australia. WWDA’s Youth Network has been created by and for girls and young women with disability in recognition of the need for a stand-alone initiative that builds the capacity of girls and young women with disability to realise their human rights.

Knowledge is power.

Cashelle Dunn, coordinator of the WWDA Youth Network said: “When girls and young women with disability are armed with knowledge, they gain voice, choice, and more control over their lives,”

“It is important for all young people, as they move through adolescence and into adulthood, to be equipped with the knowledge, support and opportunity to realise their rights and the rights of others. For young women with disability this is especially important.”

WWDA Youth Network aims to generate a movement for all girls and young women with disability to share stories, dispel myths, share tips through peer support. It aims to reduce isolation, build self-esteem, and most importantly, create agency and autonomy to enable girls and young women with disability to participate fully in economic, social and political development, and to experience full and effective enjoyment of their human rights.

Ms Dunn said: “We want every girl and young woman with disability to be given the opportunity and the means to develop her own identity, to have personal autonomy, to develop a sense of personal worth, to speak out about her experiences and express her views, and to take action individually and collectively to claim her rights. We believe that by embracing social media platforms and using the innovations in technology, the WWDA Youth Network will deliver an important and innovative mechanism to help achieve this.”

The Network is for girls and young women with disability aged 13 to 30 years, however it will have a strong focus on adolescent girls, in recognition of the fact that adolescence is a period of significant biological and social transition, and that adolescent girls have multifaceted and integrated needs, particularly in relation to their sexual and reproductive health, legal status and rights, education and economic opportunities, and their right to freedom from all forms of violence.

A key function of the Network is to provide peer education, learning and participation opportunities for girls and young women with disability around:

  • Sexual and reproductive health rights and information
  • Information on gender identity, gender expression, sexuality and intersex status
  • Rights to freedom from all forms of violence, exploitation and abuse
  • Rights to be involved in all decision-making processes that affect them
  • Rights to inclusive and accessible education
  • Rights to justice and meaningful employment.

Carolyn Frohmader, Executive Director of WWDA said: “The key purpose of WWDA is to promote and advance the human rights of all women and girls with disability. I am very excited about this initiative and it is particularly encouraging to have the Federal Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for Women joining us to launch the network, and to have the Human Rights Commissioners for Sex Discrimination, Children, and Disability also show their support,”

“One of the most important steps we can take to empower girls and young women with disability is to make sure they have access to information, and become better informed about their human rights and freedoms. The WWDA Youth Network aims to unite girls and young women with disability in Australia and to facilitate peer-led support and information sharing. I look forward to its growth and success,” said Ms Frohmader.

Media Contact
Sara Irvine
0402 982 002

Event Details
10.45am, Thursday 30 July 2015
Australian Human Rights Commission
Level 3, 175 Pitt Street,
Sydney NSW 2000