First national conference on women with disabilities in Austria

The Austrian Disability Council held its first conference on gender equality in September this year. The title of the conference was "Women with disabilities – Do we really need to talk about it?" and took place in Vienna, with over 100 participants from disability and women’s rights organisations as well as from the political arena.

It focused on the multiple forms of discrimination against women with disabilities, the challenges they face in their different life cycles and their extreme underrepresentation in the public sphere and the media. The conference was particularly successful due to the appearance of two ministers (Social Affairs and Women), its sponsorship by Austria’s first lady and the unexpected appearance of our current chancellor, Mrs Bierlein, who gave an inspiring speech. This political presence helped the conference to broad and prime time media coverage – a premier for this annual event. The Austrian Federation of the Blind and Partially Sighted was represented through Ms. Stefanie Steinbauer, who co-organised this year’s EBU conference on gender equality in Malmö, Sweden. Ms. Steinbauer was given the opportunity to host a session on promoting gender equality within disability organisations and presented EBU’s work in this area. The 2-day event was extremely helpful in bringing disability organisations and women’s rights groups closer together and in raising awareness for the topic in general. Hopefully, the positive feedback we received from political representatives and the media will allow us to put the topic higher on the agenda of the next Austrian government, which is currently forming.