Leila: Caring for a child with polio can present significant challenges, physically and financially. Primary responsibility for managing these challenges often falls to women – mothers, daughters, sisters, grandmothers. How does such caring impact the lives of women in developing countries?

Natasha: In families affected by polio, it is typically women and girls who bear the huge costs associated with caring for a child with a disability. Women and girl carers are often limited in their ability to participate in education and employment, and are more likely to be poor and remain poor. I am proud of the commitment Australia has shown to ending polio globally, in particular through our support for the Global Polio Eradication Initiative, and for routine immunisation more broadly. I encourage renewed efforts to eradicate this disease globally – poor and vulnerable women and girls are relying on us.

Leila: It is hard enough being a woman or girl in a developing country – how much harder is it/more vulnerable are you if you are a young girl with a disability?

Natasha: Women and girls in developing countries have higher rates of disability than men and boys and face multiple discrimination and disadvantage because of their gender and disability. Girls with disabilities often cannot access even basic services and opportunities on an equal basis with others, usually cannot go to school and are vulnerable to abuse and neglect. I’m pleased that addressing these inequalities is integrated into Australia’s aid program. For example, Australia has made high quality and transformational investments in girls’ education through our bilateral, multilateral and international advocacy efforts including signing an international statement of action for marginalised girls.