On 7 November 2014, Inclusion International co-sponsored a side event on “Autistic Girls and Women”, organized by Autistic Minority International at the United Nations in Geneva. The side event was also co-sponsored by the International Alliance of Women, the International Disability Alliance and the NGO Forum for Health.
It took place during the Beijing+20 Regional Review Meeting, hosted by the UN Economic Commission for Europe and UN Women at Palais des Nations. This conference reviewed the implementation of the Beijing Declaration and Platform of Action (which was the outcome of the Fourth World Conference on Women in 1995) in the ECE region (Europe, North America, Russia, central Asia, Turkey and Israel).
The speakers included three autistic self-advocates: Dena Gassner, board member of The Arc (II’s member in the USA), Olley Edwards, co-founder of Autism Women Matter (UK), and Adeline Lacroix of Alliance Autiste (France).
Chiara Servili, focal point for child and adolescent mental health, spoke for the World Health Organization. The side event was moderated by Lyda Verstegen, former president of the International Alliance of Women.
When most people hear “autism”, they mistakenly think of boys and men only. Girls and women present differently than autistic males. Thus, they often lack a diagnosis and access to support and services.
Autistic girls and women face multiple forms of violence and discrimination. The side event was a unique opportunity to introduce UN experts, government representatives and women’s rights activists to autistic women who advocate for their own rights and their daughters’ futures.