#EqualUN: open letter to protect gender parity and diverse representation on UN disability committee

More than 80 organisations and experts have signed our open letter calling on UN member countries to protect gender parity and diversity of representation on the committee on the rights of persons with disabilities.

The letter was coordinated by Sightsavers and partners from Light for the World, GQUAL Campaign, Women Enabled International, CBM Global Disability Inclusion, the World Federation of the Deaf and the International Disability Alliance. It has been sent directly to each participating country’s permanent mission to the UN in New York.  

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Open letter (also available in French and Spanish translations)

Your Excellencies,

We the undersigned call on you, as a State Party to the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), to use your votes in the election of the new CRPD Committee at the Conference of States Parties in June 2022 to protect the gains made on gender parity on the Committee and to ensure it continues to become more representative and diverse in line with the intent of the CRPD.

In 2020, six women were elected and gender parity on the CRPD Committee was achieved for the very first time. This is in stark contrast to 2016 when no women were elected (resulting in just one woman sitting on the 18-member Committee), and all previous iterations of the Committee, when women were in a minority. States Parties must protect this progress.

The CRPD states in Article 34 (4) that in electing Committee members, consideration should be given to “equitable geographical distribution, representation of the different forms of civilization and of the principal legal systems, balanced gender representation and participation of experts with disabilities.”

As well as maintaining gender parity, we must ensure equitable geographical distribution and persons with diverse types of disability. To make progress towards an equal world for everyone, in both public and political life, it’s essential that the voices of underrepresented groups of persons with disabilities are heard, including women with disabilities, deaf persons, deaf-blind persons, persons with intellectual disabilities and persons with psychosocial disabilities.

At the Conference of States Parties in June 2022, you have an opportunity to protect the gains made in recent years on the CRPD Committee on gender parity, and drive progress towards representing the full diversity of voices of experts with disabilities. We urge all States Parties to the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities to cast their votes with this in mind.


Coordinating group 

Sightsavers #EqualUN Campaign (UK/Global) 

Light for the World (Austria/Global) 

GQUAL Campaign (Global) 

Women Enabled International (USA/Global) 

CBM Global Disability Inclusion (Netherlands/Global) 

World Federation of the Deaf (Finland/Global) 

International Disability Alliance (USA/Global) 


African Albinism Ambassadors 

African Observatory of Civic Freedoms and Fundamental Rights (Benin) 

Association pour la Promotion Féminine et le Développement Communautaire (Benin) 

Arab Organization of People with Disabilities (Lebanon) 

Autistic Minority International (Switzerland/Global) 

Brot für die Welt Österreich (Austria) 

Caritas Austria 

DeafKidz International (UK/Global) 

Dementia Alliance International (USA) 

Disability Rights Fund (USA) 

Enable the Disable Action (Democratic Republic of Congo) 

Entropia Social, A.C. (Mexico) 

European Disability Forum (Belgium) 

European Network on Independent Living (Belgium) 

Global Responsibility – Austrian Platform for Development and Humanitarian Aid (Austria) 

Humanity & Inclusion (USA/Global) 

Inclusion Canada 

International Disability and Development Consortium (Belgium/Global) 

International Network of Women with Disabilities (USA/Global) 

International Paralympic Committee (Germany/Global) 

International Women’s Rights Action Watch Asia Pacific (Malaysia) 

Leaders of inclusion and Integration for Persons with Disabilities (Libya) 

Natineee Empowerment for Sustainable Impact Initiative (Nigeria) 

Organization of Rahyab for Rehabilitation Services for the Blind (Afghanistan) 

Shanta Memorial Rehabilitation Centre (India) 

Songambele Initiative Organisation (Tanzania) 

The Harkin Institute (USA) 

This Ability Trust (Kenya) 

VSO – Voluntary Service Overseas (UK/Global) 

World Federation of the Deaf Youth Section (France/Global) 

WIDE – Network for Women´s Rights and Feminist Perspectives in Development (Austria) 

World Blind Union (Canada/Global) 


Mr Olabode Abiodun (Nigeria) 

Ms Sahayarani Antony (Germany) 

Dr Mary Asiyo-Vogel (Germany) 

Petra Bayr – Member of the Austrian Parliament (Austria) 

Professor David Black (Canada) 

Ludwig Büll (Austria) 

Tom Butcher – President, Light for the World USA, Inc. (USA) 

Dr Bronagh Byrne (Northern Ireland) 

Dr Caroline Casey – Founder of The Valuable 500 (Ireland) 

Ms Takyiwa Danso (UK) 

Dave Deuel – Independent researcher and consultant (USA) 

Bagbila Elie – Head of Rights & Advocacy (Burkina Faso) 

Fiona Fiedler BEd (Austria) 

Mr Sean Fitzsimons (Northern Ireland) 

Mr Krishna Gahatraj (Nepal) 

Valérie Grand’Maison (Canada) 

Heike Grebien – Member of the national council Austria 

Laila Grillo (Switzerland) 

Nadia Hadad (Belgium)  

Dr Caroline Harper – CEO, Sightsavers (UK) 

Elizabeth Harrington (Ireland and UK) 

Carsten Hartmann (Germany) 

Judith Heumann (USA) 

Susan Höfner – Advisor Humanitarian Assistance, Disability & Inclusion at DAHW German Leprosy and Tuberculosis Relief Association (Germany) 

Dr Franz-Josef Huainigg – Former Member of Austrian Parliament & Speaker of People with Disabilities (Austria)  

Hanna Jovanovic (Austria) 

Saliya Kahawatte (Germany) 

Áine Kelly-Costello (New Zealand) 

Myra Kovary (USA) 

Dr Karin Krobath (Austria) 

Dr Guy Le Fanu (UK) 

Professor Dominique Masson (Canada) 

Jack McMahon (UK) 

Florian Meyer (Germany) 

Marsden Mwiti Mureti (Kenya) 

Verena Nussbaum (Austria) 

Andreas Onea (Austria) 

Gerard Quinn – UN Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (Ireland) 

Miss Susannah Rodgers MBE, Technical Adviser on Disability Inclusion, Sightsavers (UK) 

Rupert Roniger – CEO, Light for the World (Austria) 

Ms Sara Rotenberg (Canada) 

Professor Tom Shakespeare (UK)  

Carmen Sinclair (UK) 

Professor Karen Soldatic (Australia) 

Mr Dayanidas Sudhakar (India) 

Mr Tulari Tine (Nigeria) 

Philipp Überbacher (Italy) 

Ms Faustina Urassa (Tanzania) 

Dr Ernst von Kimakowitz (Switzerland) 

Dr Mary Wickenden (UK) 

Ms Benafsha Yaqoobi – Commissioner, Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission (Afghanistan)