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Last Updated: Wednesday, 15 October, 2003, 06:42 GMT 07:42 UK
Disabled women 'suffer bias'
Office worker in wheelchair
The report focused on disabled women's experiences
Many disabled women have encountered discrimination from health professionals, a report has claimed.

The survey published on Wednesday found disabled women in Northern Ireland were less likely to be employed or have formal qualifications than disabled men.

The Equality Commission for Northern Ireland report said assumptions made about matters like capacity to form relationships, to become mothers or carers, or to hold down a job could have a negative impact.

Some women reported difficulties in accessing specific health services, while there were also allegations of inadequate support from statutory bodies.

This problem is exacerbated by the low expectations many in society have of women with disabilities
Philomena McCrory
Centre for Independent Living
The report said: "Many have encountered discriminatory attitudes from wider society in general and from health service professionals in particular."

Evelyn Collins, the commission's chief executive, said significant work was needed to eliminate disadvantages of discrimination and identity.

"Many felt that because they were not expected to have a career, nor to assume caring roles experienced by other women, this limited their life choices," she said.

Philomena McCrory from the Centre for Independent Living said many women felt that negative and patronising attitudes were detrimental in all aspects of their lives.

She added: "This problem is exacerbated by the low expectations many in society have of women with disabilities."


Meanwhile, a 16-year-old from Londonderry has been awarded a grant of more than 7,500 to help raise awareness of disabilities.

Donovan McKeever won the award from the children's charity Whizz-Kidz for his project Just Like You, which promoted the message that disabled people have the same thoughts and feelings as everyone else.

He is to create a documentary video and booklet based on his own experiences, to give an insight into a disabled persons' life.

He will also produce a guide to disabled facilities at football grounds across the UK and Ireland.

Donovan said he hoped his project would help to break down unnecessary barriers.

"It really annoys me when people assume that because you are in a wheelchair you don't want to do the same things as other teenagers," he said.

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